China orders severe penalties for child abuse

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 24, 2013
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Chinese authorities released a guideline on the handling of sex offences against minors on Thursday, promising severe penalties and minimum tolerance following many recent incidents.

Heavier sentences should be handed down for offenses committed by teachers and government personnel tasked with educating and protecting the victims, according to a joint communique by the Supreme People's Court (SPC), the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice.

As an advisory, "the guideline embodies the principle of 'maximum protection' for the victims and 'minimum tolerance' for the offenders," said SPC spokesman Sun Jungong at a press conference on Thursday.

Offenders serving suspended sentences could be banned from frequenting schools and excluded from jobs or activities involving minors, however, the document suggests that suspended sentences are inappropriate for adults convicted of serious offences.

Any institutions involved, schools for example, may be liable for compensation to victims or their families.

Harsher sentences are order for offences involving breaking and entering, preteens, children in rural areas whose parents are working away from home, those with serious disabilities or, cases of violence, pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.

To protect victims' privacy, investigators will question victims at their home or other places where they feel safe psychologically. Repeated questioning should be avoided and officers should wear plain clothes when visiting victims's home or schools.

A spate of sexual assaults on minors has shocked the nation, including several involving teachers and their students.

A 62-year-old primary school teacher in east China's Jiangxi Province was sentenced to 14 years in jail earlier this month for molesting seven second-grade girls in class and infecting six of them with STDs.

Guang Tianyi, 27, was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for molesting one girl and two boys on separate occasions in Beijing between December 2012 and March this year.

On June 25, a school principal was sentenced to 18 years in jail for raping and molesting girls in Qianshan County in east China's Anhui Province.

"Though the number of sexual offences is not high in terms of criminal cases, they have serious physical and mental effects on minors, an extremely adverse impact in society, and arouse strong public discontent," Sun said.

The Ministry of Education, together with three other authorities, issued guidelines on prevention of sexual assaults against children last month, asking schools to educate students against sexual assaults and to tighten reviews of teacher credentials and management of dorms.

Chu Zhaohui, a researcher with the National Institute of Education Sciences, said China still need to improve coordination for handling sex assault cases, noting that some cases were even left unreported, concealed or trivialized. Psychological counseling for victims should also be enhanced.


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