Rape crisis centers and hot lines remain extremely rare in China. Beijing, with more than 20 million people, has one sexual assault hot line that supposedly operates four evenings a week. One recent week, the telephone went unanswered on two of those nights. In China only a small fraction of rape victims ever charge their attackers. In a country of 1.3 billion, fewer than 32,000 sex crimes were reported in 2007, the latest year for which government statistics are available. By contrast, the number of rapes reported in the United States that year was more than 12 times as high.
As in many countries, in China only a small fraction of rape victims ever charge their attackers. In a country of 1.3 billion, fewer than 32,000 sex crimes were reported in 2007, the latest year for which government statistics are available. By contrast, the number of rapes reported in the United States that year was more than 12 times as high. “Let me give you an example,” said Li Ying, the vice director of Ms. Guo’s center. “A few years ago there was a case where one man in a village raped more than 100 women. Not one of them spoke up.” In a mineral-rich region of China, Wang Zhonggui, the head of Ashi’s land and resource bureau, was particularly powerful. So when the middle school held a legal-awareness program on May 17, Mr. Wang, 28, was among a group of authorities, including the school’s principal, public security officials and Communist Party leaders, who were invited to a post-lecture lunch at the local government building. Teachers ate in the canteen, including the woman who said she was later raped. Her account of what followed has appeared in the local news media and on the Internet. Local government officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
According to the teacher, the principal urged her to toast the officials in their dining room, and she felt compelled to comply, toasting each official in turn with a shot of baijiu, China’s fiery, clear liquor. After 14 or 15 shots, she said, she was hopelessly drunk. Feeling sick, she accepted a ride home with Mr. Wang and the school’s vice principal. But instead, she said, they took her to Mr. Wang’s suite. After the school official left, she staggered to the bathroom, threw up and tried to hold the door shut while Mr. Wang pounded on it. Then, she said, Mr. Wang climbed through the bathroom window and dragged her to a bedroom adjoining his office. She woke up several hours later, almost naked, in an empty room. On the floor was a used condom, she said. After agonizing all night, she went with her mother to the police station, where Zhong Xiancong, a police official who had attended the luncheon, heard her report of rape. “To protect your reputation, you should forget about the whole thing,” she said Mr. Zhong told her. “You should tell your boyfriend Wang just hugged you.” He also said there was no need for the police to secure the crime scene, she said. The police detained Mr. Wang three days after the episode, but released him two weeks later, citing a lack of evidence, according to Chinese news media reports.