At least ten boys from the third grade of Dalian’s renowned Ruige Junior Middle School (瑞格中学) have been sexually abused by their teacher over a period of two years, Chinese newspaper The Paper (澎湃新闻) reports.
The children had told their parents about the abuse, but were not believed because it only concerned boys.
Teacher Li Chaoyuan (李朝元) repeatedly fondled and kissed students, exposing their private parts in front of the whole class. Victims told The Paper the teacher also took them home to do “disgusting things” with them. Middle school pupils in China on average are aged between 12 (first grade) and 15 (third grade). The teacher is a 43-year-old married man who is the father of two children. His wife was also employed at Ruige Middle School.
The case came to light when one of the school’s pupils told his parents about the abuse in January of this year. According to the boy [anonymous], the teacher would not just sexually abuse the other boys in the class, but would also violently beat them. It is still unclear how many boys fell victim to sexual harassment by the teacher. The girls in the class allegedly were not abused.
The Paper wrote on its Weibo account that other children had previously told their parents about the ongoing abuse, but that they were not believed because “it only concerned boys”.
Ruige Middle School (瑞格中学) is one of the most famous private schools of Dalian, a prosperous city and sea port in northeastern China. The school has around 1200 students and 110 teachers, both Chinese and foreign. School fees are 100,000 RMB (±15,000U$) per year.
In response to the sexual abuse scandal, the school board allegedly stated that the “class monitoring devices had broken”, and that they were not aware the teacher was “breaking the law”. They offered victims a compensation of 20,000 RMB (±3000US$) for their suffering, giving out higher amounts to the “more severe cases”.
Although teacher Li Chaoyuan was expelled from the school and has been taken into custody earlier this year, the court case has been delayed. Li is expected to go on trial this month.
“This is not about being gay, it is about being a pedophile.”
On Sina Weibo, many netizens are shocked to learn about the scandal. Especially the gender aspect seems to concern netizens, with many responding in disbelief to the fact that boys can become a victim of sexual abuse, and some bringing in homosexuality as a motive for the teacher’s actions.
“I always thought it was only girls who had to be vigilant, but now it turns out also the boys are in danger,” one netizen writes. “What a pervert this is,” another person comments: “Did he think it would be better to abuse boys than girls?”
“This is the result of more and more homosexuality in our society,” another netizen says.
“This is not about being gay,” another commenter responds: “this is about being a pedophile.”
Some netizens are concerned about homosexuality being mentioned as a motive: “If only news like this would not negatively influence perceptions about homosexuality,” one person responds.
Other Weibo netizens try to set the record straight: “When girls are molested, they are often told that they did not protect themselves enough or that they are responsible for it. Fact is, both girls and boys can become a victim of abuse.”
“Until recently, male victims of rape could not turn to the criminal law for help, because their cases didn’t fit the legal definition of rape.”
It is rare for news about men becoming victims of sexual harassment to make headlines in China. In May of this year, Chinese media reported about a man falling victim to sexual harassment by a young woman on a bus. Female netizens responded to the issue in great numbers, using the occasion to turn the tables and sarcastically ‘blame’ the male passenger. The issue of ‘victim-blaming’ when women are sexually harassed is a recurring topic in Chinese social media.
Although female victims of abuse often face stigmatization and victim-blaming, male victims of abuse can face additional challenges because of existing social attitudes and misconceptions about masculinity, homosexuality, and male-on-male sexual abuse. As reported by China Daily in March of 2015, male victims of rape could not turn to the criminal law for help until recently, because their cases did not fit the legal definition of rape (Wang 2015). This also entailed that there were no laws banning male rape for boys over the age of 14.
This changed as recent as November 2015, when male rape officially became a crime in China. This means that the Dalian teacher could now face considerable time in jail – something that was impossible in the 2015 case of a Hebei teacher named Li Jian, who consistently tortured, molested and raped several teenage boys, but was only found guilty of “detaining” his students.
Many Chinese netizens stress that parents should believe their children when they tell them they are being abused, no matter if they are boys or girls. “This thing was able to go on because it was covered up by the school and parents would not believe their children,” one commenter says: “Believe what your children tell you. These kids have been suffering enough.”
Wang, Xiaoying. 2015. “Rape laws should cover male victims – expert.” China Daily, March 30 http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2015-03/30/content_19952532.htm [5.8.16]
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