After sexual assault cases hit headlines, experts say counseling is long-term solution

2016-09-20 09:13Global Times Editor: Li Yan ECNS App Download

The other students studying at university with Xiao Cheng (pseudonym) were shocked to learn that the quiet, shy boy had been taking pictures in the female toilet.

That night, Cheng was confronted by his classmates and his shirt was ripped. Although he claimed that he hadn't taken any pictures of female students and had wandered into the toilet by accident, incriminating photos on his phone gave him away after his classmates took his device from him.

After this public confrontation, the college's student affairs office told him that he would have to leave the university for sexually harassing female students, but Cheng was told that he could take the college entrance exam again and that the incident would not be marked on his permanent record.

According to a 2014 All China Women's Federation report, 57 percent of 1,200 female students at 15 universities surveyed said they had suffered sexual harassment, with many saying they had been harassed repeatedly, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Getting away with it

While Cheng faced consequences for his actions, many campus harassers get away scot-free, said Yang Hong, a Hangzhou-based women's and children's rights lawyer.

Kang Chenwei, a student at Beijing Normal University (BNU), created a map that shows the time and locations of 60 reported cases of campus sexual harassment since 2007. Kang says that the fact this topic is frequently discussed on BNU's online forum shows it is an ongoing problem.

In Kang's report, some victims said that they fear that the harassment may escalate into violent attacks or rape.

Victims told Kang that they were scarred by the harassment they faced. "I felt sick about all men in plaid shirts after I was sexually harassed by one," a female victim was quoted as saying by Kang in his report.

Kang exposed a professor who repeatedly harassed female students, which he describes as "the worst sexual harassment case" in the study.

BNU said on its official Weibo account on August 31 that they are investigating the cases described by Kang's report. The university also vowed zero tolerance if the cases are verified.

Yang told the Global Times that cases involving the abuse of power are difficult to solve as collecting evidence is difficult.

The power imbalance also allows harassers to claim that the victims seduced them to gain benefits, Yang said, adding that victims are often reluctant to report such cases as they worry about their careers, reputation and family.

Lack of education

Wu Boxin, a Beijing-based expert on criminal psychology, told the Global Times on September 13 that many young harassers could benefit from receiving psychological help.

Wu noted that students who lack proper sexual education and grow up in a relatively closed society, may find themselves more prone to having "abnormal" sexual urges.

Those who engage in voyeurism are often unconfident and not accepted by society, said Peng Xiaohui, a sexologist at Central China Normal University.

Peng argued that BNU should have made Cheng receive counseling rather than simply expelling him from the school.

Wu said social pressure is also a major cause of sexual harassment, "these who are unemployed and pressured may find sexually harassing someone is the outlet for their negative feelings."

Cheng told the Global Times that he received very little sexual education He said that after going to university, excessive exposure to pornographic websites made him "lose himself."

"Chinese students are more likely to be influenced by pornography than guided by sexual education, due to the fact that Chinese schools see sexual education as dispensable," said Peng.

Universities in China should also open anonymous sexual harassment reporting platforms, said Peng.

Kang said that victims are willing to share their experiences as they want the harassers to be punished and to end harassment altogether, news portal reported.


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