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“Why Boys?” – Sexual Abuse of Teenage Boys in Dalian School Shocks Chinese Netizens

A sexual abuse scandal at a top-rated private middle school in Dalian, China, has recently come to light. According to reports, one teacher consistently molested at least ten teenage boys over a period of two years. Chinese netizens are especially shocked that the teacher specifically targeted teenage boys rather than girls, exposing existing societal misconceptions about male victims of sexual abuse.

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A sexual abuse scandal at a top-rated private middle school in Dalian, China, has recently come to light. According to reports, a 43-year-old male teacher consistently molested teenage boys over a period of two years. Chinese netizens are shocked that the teacher specifically targeted teenage boys rather than girls, revealing existing misconceptions about male victims of sexual abuse in China.

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 topic “Teacher Molests At Least Ten Boys” (#班主任猥亵十余男生#) became a top trending topic on Sina Weibo on August 5.

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.

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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.”

– By Manya Koetse

References

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]

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Digital

Key Players, Digital Trends & Deep Dives: China Internet Report 2021

SCMP just launched its latest China Internet Report. (And What’s on Weibo readers can get a 30% discount on the Pro Edition!)

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As China’s tech sector has been facing an ongoing crackdown by Beijing regulations, a lot has been changing in the country’s digital environment over the past year. The new China Internet Report 2021 by SCMP gives an overview of the latest trends and developments.

When it comes to China’s online landscape, nothing ever stays the same. Over the past year, political, economic, and social developments and measures have once again changed the Chinese digital environment.

Giving a comprehensive overview of the key leaders and major trends dominating the Chinese online field, South China Morning Post (SCMP) issued its fourth annual China Internet Report.

China’s internet population has now risen to 989 million – last year’s report indicated an internet population of 904 million. By now, there are 853 million mobile payment users, which indicates that over 86% of the entire mobile internet population uses mobile as a way to pay.

As China’s internet population is still growing, and new online startups are still popping up every day, there have been tightening regulations on multiple fronts.

As laid out in SCMP’s report, regulations mainly focus on the four areas of antitrust, finance, cybersecurity, and data privacy. Regulatory actions targeting the monopolistic behaviours of China’s biggest internet companies are still ongoing, and the new Data Security Law came into effect on September 1st of this year.

While Chinese tech companies are seeing increased scrutiny at home, they have also been facing intensifying geopolitical tensions between China and other countries. Over the past year, the various probes and shutdowns into Chinese companies by countries such as the US and India have meant a serious blow to the market share of Chinese apps.

Meanwhile, the SCMP report highlights the trend of various older and newer Chinese (e-commerce) apps “downplaying” their Chinese origins when entering foreign markets. Shein is a good example of this development, but other players including Zaful, Urbanic, and Cider are also experiencing more success outside of China while not explicitly marketing themselves as Chinese e-commerce apps.

Another noteworthy trend explained in the new report is how China’s shifting demographics are creating new niche segments to compete over. The COVID-19 crisis is partially a reason why China has seen an increase in senior internet users, with an increasing number of online products and content catering to the elderly.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) even issued special guidelines earlier this year for web pages and mobile apps to carry out so-called “elderly friendliness modifications.” Since this user group is still expected to see significant growth, the “silver economy” is an area that will only become more important in the years to come.

To check out all the main trends for 2021, China’s latest internet statistics, its top tech competitors, internet companies, and more, here’s a link to the free report.

The free report is 55 pages long and gives an overview of China’s latest internet numbers and players, covers the top cross-sector trends for 2021, including the tightening regulations and the bumpy road ahead for China’s tech IPOs.

The Pro Edition of China’s Internet Report 2021, also launched by SCMP, is 138 pages long and provides a deep-dive into ten relevant sectors – featuring insightful and useful analysis, data, and case studies relating to China’s e-commerce market, content & media, gaming, blockchain, fintech, online education, healthtech, smart cars, 5G, and Artificial Intelligence.

The China Internet Report Pro Edition is priced at US$400, but the team at SCMP has kindly reached out and made it possible for us to offer a special 30% discount to What’s on Weibo readers.

You’ll get the discount by using the discount code: WHATSONWEIBO30, or by clicking this link that will automatically include your discount code.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Insight

Goodbye 996? Weibo Discussions on Changes in Overtime Work Culture

Beijing made it clear that working overtime is illegal, but netizens are concerned about the realities of changing working schedules.

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Many people are tired of being forced to log long hours, but are also worried about how a national crackdown on ‘996’ working culture could impact their workload and income.

In late August of 2021, China’s Ministry of Human Resources & Social Security (人社部) and the Supreme People’s Court issued a joint clarification on the country’s legal standards of working hours and overtime pay.

Their message was clear: the practices of ‘996’ (working 9am-9pm, six days per week) and ‘007’ (working 24 hours seven days per week, referring to a flexible working system worse than 996) are illegal, and employers are obliged to obey the national working-time regime.

On Weibo, China’s state broadcaster CCTV published a 10-minute long video illustrating the 10 typical cases of overtime work laid out by the ministry and the top court. The moment was marked as the first time for the state-owned broadcaster to publicly comment on overtime work practices.

The Weibo post pointed out that “striving for success is not a shield companies can use to evade legal responsibilities,” and made it clear that employees have the right to “say no to forced overtime.”

The topics of overtime work and China’s 996 work culture generated many discussions on Weibo, with the hashtag “Ministry of Human Resources & Social Security and the Supreme Court Clarify 996 and 007 Are Illegal” (#人社部最高法明确996和007都违法#) generating over 420 million views on the social media platform.

 
“Without implementation and enforcement, the law is useless”
 

The current labor law in China bars employees from working more than 44 hours a week, and any overtime work must be paid.

Although the 996 practice is technically prohibited by law, many companies still enforce the hours informally.

Many employees revealed online that, although the 996 practice is legally prohibited, they were nevertheless being assigned job tasks that exceeded the prescribed working hours.

“Just finished work,” one Weibo user (@介也没嘛) posted with this picture, showing it’s nearing 11PM.

“I wonder if the workload will decrease after all. If it doesn’t change, it means people will now have to work voluntarily,” one Weibo user commented.

People also indicated that, since the start of the pandemic, remote work has become a new norm. Many companies have moved from office to working at home, making it harder to draw the line between regular working hours and overtime hours.

“What really matters is whether working from home includes overtime hours,” one Weibo user wrote. Many netizens complained that their companies wouldn’t explicitly stipulate a 996 schedule; instead, most of them disguise the overtime hours as ‘voluntary’ work.


Many commenters say it takes more comprehensive legislation and tougher law enforcement to really solve the issue of overtime work.

“These regulations are good, but they are basically impossible to implement. Even if they ban ‘996’ and ‘007’ there is no way to regulate the so-called ‘voluntary work,’” one Weibo user wrote.

Some people said that their companies have various performance assessments and that they feared that refusing to work more hours would make them lose their competitive advantage: “The burn-out (内卷 nèijuǎn, ‘involution’) is severe. It is too difficult for us. I have only one day off during the week and I’m so tired,” one person commented.

 
“We don’t need those who comfortably work 8 hours”
 

China’s 996 work culture has been championed by tech leaders and denounced by workers for years, and it has become an unwritten standard – not just in the tech sector but also in other industries.

While working long hours has been ingrained in Chinese workplace culture since the early days of the country’s internet boom, it later also started to represent ‘a road to success’ for Chinese tech entrepreneurs.

Many Chinese netizens blame Alibaba’s Jack Ma for praising the ‘996’ work system. In 2019, Ma called the 12-hour working day a “huge blessing,” causing much controversy online. During his talk at Kyiv International Economic Forum, Ma said: “(..) ‘996 is the spirit that I encourage Alibaba people to follow. If you want to have a bright future, (..) if you want to be successful, you have to work hard.”

On another occasion, the tech mogul reportedly said: “If you join Alibaba, you should get ready to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why do you come to Alibaba? We don’t need those who comfortably work 8 hours.”

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group described 996 as a ‘blessing’.

However, after the shocking death of one Chinese delivery man working for food delivery platform Ele.me and the widespread discussions about the ‘996 ICU’ project – which called on tech workers to add names and evidence of excessive hours to a ‘blacklist,’ – the 996 work culture has come under increased scrutiny.

Some people argue that the overtime culture is draining employees and creating an unhealthy work-life balance; others argue that they work for themselves and believe that putting in extra hours will eventually translate to individual success.

While economic growth has slowed down during the pandemic, most companies are persisting with long working hours because they are under pressure to achieve results.

According to an online survey conducted by an influential tech blogging account (@IT观察猿), more than one-third of participants claimed to have one day off per week, and more than one quarter claimed they didn’t have any weekend days off.

 
“The workload is the same, but the income has reduced”
 

Starting from August 1st, ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the popular short-form video app TikTok, dropped its ‘big and small week’ (大小周) – a schedule that previously required employees to work six days in a row every other week.

ByteDance is not the only Chinese tech company that has begun to cut back on its long working hours. More and more companies have decided to drop grueling work schedules.

Kuaishou, another Chinese short-form video app company, stopped scheduling weekend work in July. Since early June, Tencent – China’s largest game publisher – has encouraged people to clock out at 6 pm every Wednesday.

Although these changes seem to signal a positive development, there are also many people who do not support the new measures. When Bytedance announced the changes to its working schedule, news came out that one-third of the employees did not support the decision (#字节跳动1/3员工不支持取消周末加班#).

Those relying on overtime pay said abolishing overtime work will cut their take-home pay by around 20%. Indeed, the first pay-out after the new implementation at Bytedance showed an overall drop of 17% in employees’ wages.

“The workload is the same, but the income has reduced,” one Weibo commenter complained.

One trending discussion on Weibo focused on the question “Do companies need to make up for employees’ financial loss after the abolition of weekend work?” Many comments revealed the situation faced by thousands of struggling workers who value free time but value their income more.

Many on Weibo still wonder whether a company that abolishes ‘996’ will come up with an alternative to compensate those employees who will otherwise inevitably lose vital income.

By Yunyi Wang

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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