CORRECTION: As we have noted here, the legal term “rape” still does not apply to male-on-male encounters according to law in China. A reader also noted that though this may be the first case of “using coercion to act indecently” among men prosecuted in Beijing, there have been cases elsewhere in the country since 2015.
The Beijing News reports (in Chinese) that a man surnamed Dong was sentenced by a Beijing court to one year in jail and one year’s probation on the charge of “using coercion to act indecently” on another man, surnamed Li.
The case is significant because it is the first such conviction of a man-on-man sexual assault in China since the Ninth Amendment to the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. Passed on August 29, 2015, and taking effect on November 1 of that year, that amendment revised language to make victims of sexual assault gender neutral.
Specifically, it modified Article 237, changing “Whoever, by violence, coercion, or other means, forces, molests, or humiliates a woman is to be sentenced to not more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention” to “Those using violence, coercion or other methods to act indecently against others or insult women are sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years or short-term detention” (emphasis ours).
“This means that Chinese laws are paying more and more attention to men’s sexual rights and have started to protect them in the form of laws,” a lawyer told the Beijing News, adding that even though the case indicates a sort of progress, there is more to do to further protect male victims of sexual assault.
According to people familiar with the case, Dong, 45, sexually assaulted Li, 41, in a Beijing apartment on April 14, 2017, while Li was drunk. Dong voluntarily surrendered to police the following day and reached a settlement with Li. In addition, Dong confessed that he is HIV positive.
Despite the settlement, Dong still faced prosecution.
Internet users expressed discontent with the sentence, saying that Dong deserves more time in jail given the fact that he is HIV positive. “This is not just a rape case. It’s rape plus attempted murder. The sentence should take all these crimes into account,” one commenter wrote (in Chinese).
Dong, born in 1972, was sentenced by the same court (the People’s Court of Shunyi District) to jail terms of three years in 2008 for theft and three months in 2016 for dangerous driving.