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China Women Told How to Repel Rapists

Associated Press

China has published a guide advising women on ways to repel rapists, reflecting serious government concern over an increase in the crime and over the public’s attitudes toward the victims.

The Communist leadership decreed a war on violent crime in August, 1983, and singled out rape as one of the most serious offenses, raising the maximum penalty from 10 years in prison to death.

Court bulletin boards and accounts in the press now tell of sprees by rapists from teeming Shanghai to remote Xinjiang. Many of the convicted rapists were executed after sentencing at public rallies.

Earlier this year, the party newspaper People’s Daily detailed a crime wave in the northeast city of Beian, in which a gang of more than 30 rapists ran free for four years. Many were identified as the sons of local party officials.

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The government has not disclosed the overall incidence of rape. Justice ministry statistics released last month said courts passed sentence on more than a half-million felons last year for crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and arson.

The guide, “How Women Can Prevent Rape,” advises them to travel in groups, avoid dark streets, river banks and vacant parks, and scream if suspicious-looking men are lurking nearby.

It tells them ways to fight rapists off and tells them fear is the main weapon rapists use to subdue victims.

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No advice was offered on how to repel rapists wielding weapons, but the guide said women should hurl rocks, sand or “anything hard” at an assailant if necessary.

It showed a sketch of a defiant young woman lashing her fingers toward the face of a grizzled attacker, clutching a knife in his left hand.

The guide’s call to fight back conflicts with advice given by some Western criminal psychologists, who say resistance makes rapists more dangerous.

Deep-Seated Shame

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It also underscored the deep-seated shame felt by many Chinese rape victims, often shunned by insensitive relatives who accuse them of inviting an assault by not resisting. Several suicides by raped women have been reported in the press.

Contrary to a Western theory that rapists are motivated by feelings of inferiority toward women, the guide said many are “sexual maniacs.”

The guide was published by the state-run national monthly magazine Democracy and Legal System which devoted a five-page special section to rape.

An article described a newly married young woman raped on her way home. When she later rushed into her husband’s arms and told him what happened, he shoved her away and cursed her.

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“The next day, her body was found floating in a river,” the article said. “When a woman is raped, whose crime is it? Her own? Of course not.”

‘Feudal Chastity’

The article blamed her suicide on what it called “the mentality of feudal chastity, which is really a form of oppression against women.”

Rape victims should receive support and sympathy from loved ones, the article said, likening rape to “a bite from a vicious cur.”

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Another article addressed relatives of rapists, telling them to confront the anguish of having sex offenders in their midst by recognizing what it called the need for legal education.

“How could my younger brother have become a rapist?” wrote a woman student, Xie Lifang, in a letter to the editors. It explained that her 20-year-old brother Xie Xuedong had always been a quiet boy who did well in school.

The editors published a reply from the rapist’s defense attorney, who said Xie had never learned to control his sexual urges and had no knowledge of the law.

“Your little brother is now in a reform-through-education center,” the lawyer’s reply said. “We should frequently write to him, cooperate with the justice authorities, promote his education and turn him into a new person.”

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