A Chinese activist was reportedly beaten and detained by local authorities in Guangxi province of China, a few days after she demonstrated in front of a primary school whose principal allegedly sexually abused six school girls.
Ye Haiyan stood outside the Wanning primary school in Hainan on May 27, 2013 holding a poster that read, “Principals, spare the school kids, get a hotel room with me instead!” A photo of her demonstration circulated widely on Chinese social media, with many emulating the protest.
Later that week, after returning home in Guangxi from Hainan, local police officers had raided her home and were assaulting her while her daughter was present.
In less than one month, the local media have exposed more than eight cases of sexual abuse [zh] of school children. As far as the media reported, the molesters are school principals, teachers, and security staffs.
The reported cases are just the tip of an iceberg, according to research from All-China Women's Federation (ACWF). In the past three years, there were more than 2,506 cases of sexual abuse of girls within Guangdong province [zh] alone. Half of the victims are children under 14 and 65 percent of the molesters are acquaintance of their victim's family.
The revelation of the sexual abuse allegedly by the Wanning primary school principal once again legally labelled the child victims as “underage prostitutes” in line with the country's “underage prostitution law”, which labels the victims so when the suspects can prove that they offered money or gifts to the children in the process.
Even though the Supreme People's Court has vowed to crack down child sexual abuse, without legal reform such as the abolition of that law, the criminals will not be brought to justice as rapists.
But the women organization ACWF, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party, has not reacted with calls for legal reform. Instead, it responded to the evil crime by publishing a handbook [zh] to teach school children how to say no to molesters.
As Children's Day on June 1 approaches, Chinese on social media have directed their anger toward authorities, such as the Ministry of Education and the ACWF, for leaving children unprotected and vulnerable to sexual abuse in China.
Many netizens followed Ye's dark-humored protest example on Sina Weibo. Below is a collage of protest photos put together by @genderinchina [zh]:
Weibo user “Speaking genuinely” (@1句實話) wrote that [zh] the current law is protecting the criminals rather than children:
Children's Day June 1 is coming up. Children are the flowers of the motherland. It is the country's responsibility to protect our children, in particular our girls. Upon the establishment of People Republic of China in 1949, even though at that time our legal system was incomplete, rapists of children would be given death sentence. […] Since the introduction of the term “prostitution”, the beasts have gotten out of control. Who is protecting all these beasts?
Another microblogger, “Exercise Book” (@作業本), also criticized the law as being ridiculous. His post has been republished [zh] 12,041 times and received 4,494 comments on Weibo:
“Child sexual abuse” is referred to as “getting a hotel room with children”, “trick primary school girls into a hotel room to rape them” is referred to as “getting a hotel room with school girls”, “raping an underage girl” is referred to in court as “prostituting an underage girl”… A society that treats everyone as an idiot will proclaim on June 1: Heavenly earth with blue sky, colorful flags with balloons, millions of children around the world are happily celebrating Children's Day on June 1.
Blogger “youyou52011″ wrote [zh] a long post to explain why so many have echoed Ye's action online:
A grassroots movement is speaking out against the negligence of the authorities. There are organizations dealing with women and children's rights in the system, but they are just vases and decoration. The negligence of officials and government organizations has resulted in discrimination and violence against women and children. “Get a hotel room with me instead” signifies the pain shared by all Chinese people, that's why so many netizens relay such action art.
Children's Day on June 1 is approaching. How can we face our children if such incidents of child sexual abuse keep emerging? The school should be a safe place for our kids, how can teachers do such an evil thing to their own students? “Principal, spare the children, get a hotel room with me instead” is dark-humored resistance to the sexual abuse of underage girls. The scandal of the school girls being sexually abused has challenged our moral baseline, what was stated in Ye Haiyan's banner is written in blood and tears.
One hundred years ago, Mr. Lu Xun cried out “Save our Children” against feudalism. Such cries are still echoing in our time [through Ye's action], this time people are demanding that principals stop putting their evil hands on underage girls. “Get a hotel room with me instead” is a desperate cry, dark humor against the sexual abuse of underage girls and a protest against the education system.
“Volunteer Ma Qi” [zh] (@志愿者马奇) spelled out a plan of action to help the situation:
1. Parents want the criminals to be arrested as rapists. 2. The Ministry of Education and the ACWF should comment on the series of incidents. They should put forward a proposal to improve the situation and ACWF should give a public statement. 3. Abolition of the “underage prostitution” law.