Sitting in front of me is a man in his forties, short and dark, who just got off a night train from the North-East to Beijing, to come and have this interview with us. Perhaps, for this father, facing the media is his last hope to seek justice for his daughter.
He says that last year, in September, his daughter was tricked away from home, and stayed away for 18 days. Then he describes the appearance of his daughter after 18 days: breasts and arms exposed, heavy make-up on, and wearing what he found to be a pair of weird high-heel shoes. He only knew where his daughter was after receiving a phone call from the police. At that time, he didn’t know where his daughter had been, and only after the police had finished taking his daughter’s statement did he learn that she had been detained for eighteen days and forced into prostitution.
Our interview was interrupted many times, because many times, this father started crying and had to stop talking. As a mother, I could understand his feelings at that moment. His tears were both a result of his sadness for what his daughter had suffered, and his deep deep remorse as a father.
On the same night train as him, a mother had also come. Both their daughters shared a similar story. They were lured by an acquaintance into an attic in a compound, beaten up, threatened that they would not be able to return home, asked to take snapshots for the family,and sent to a hotel for prostitution.
The mother has brought an album of her daughter, it’s a set of photos that were taken on her thirteenth birthday. Although she’s been dressed up, wearing adult clothing, the childish air on her face is very manifest, and no matter what, she’s just a child, not an adult yet. With flowing tears, the mother tells us that the girl could not return to school, because the teacher told the other children, they shouldn’t get close to her, because she is a woman on show “小骚”，a whore “卖淫女”.
Now, these two girls are hiding at home, suffering depression and unstability. They do not want to go out: in the small place they live in, the label of “prostitute” has already been firmly stuck on their heads.
“I just can’t accept that my daughter has become a prostitute, she’s so small, she was beaten up, she even knelt down to beg the clients, but the clients said they had paid the money already, there was no other way. Those old men, 50 years and over. My daughter has been destroyed by it.” The mother wrote a petition letter to the local officials, very angry.
Such cases are not isolated, only based on the number of media reports, these last two years, you can make a long list of “sex crimes involving minors”. The reason these cases are reported is because the clients are officials, however, aren’t there also many clients who are not officials? Just like this father and mother sitting in front of me, this case involves eight underage girls, four of which are under fourteen, and four clients, one a local retired official, one a village head, and two local entrepreneurs.
Client and rapist, I believe that in the eyes of many people, these are two very different concepts: one falls under the legal bottom line, the other is just a problem of moral turpitude.
In 1997, before ‘sexual encounters with a young woman’ had become a specific crime category’, cases like this were very simple: regardless of whether the young woman was consenting, regardless of whether the men knew the age of the counterpart, regardless of wether the men had paid for sex, it was always considered rape. The only difference was that punishment was different for rape on young women under the age of fourteen, and young women between the age of fourteen and sixteen. And before 1997, whoever raped more than one young woman, regardless of whether violence had been used and regardless of consent, could receive a maximal penalty of life sentencing, or even the death penalty.
Now, according to “crimes involving young women” regulations, the maximum penalty is fifteen years. But in this case, four of the girls were over fourteen years of age, yet girls under sixteen years of age cannot become a plaintiff, and punishment can only be delivered according to crimes regarding prostitution; so these clients are only treated as clients, and therefore only receive an administrative penalty.
I consulted a few legal experts, in 1997, 为何会把“嫖宿幼女罪”，从强奸罪里面单独分离出来，原来当年发生了几起未满十四周岁的女孩卖淫的案件，于是，有专家提出，需要单独列罪，the aim was to better fight against that behaviour, and protect young women, 毕竟“嫖宿幼女罪”的起刑点是五年，而强奸罪是三年。
Only, fifteen years have passed, 案件发生的频率并没有这个新罪名的出现而减少，反而在增加，毕竟“嫖客”这样的身份，不像“强奸犯”那样的震慑人心，尤其对于有头有脸的人来说，如果找未成年少女买春，意味着自己就是“强奸犯”，再胆大包天，也需要三思而后行。
之所以要立法保护未成年人，这是因为不管男女，在性问题上，不管是生理还是心理，都还没有发育成长到具备自主能力的时候。In 1992, China joined the international convention on the protection of minors from sexual assault and sexual abuse.
“嫖 宿幼女罪”之所以引起争议，那是因为，只要站在那些当事人的父母的角度想一想，有谁愿意自己的孩子头上，挂上一个“卖淫女”的头衔？而且，这个罪名本身， 不是很矛盾？难道那些自愿卖淫的未成年少女，她们就和别的同龄女孩不同，她们就具备了性自主能力了？难道因为她们是社会眼中的不良少女，因为她们品行不 端，她们就不配和其她同龄人一样，得到法律的保护?
This is part of Phoenix ‘National Theory of Relativity’ program, about whether we should abolish sex crimes for young women, 回到97年前，按照强奸罪处罚的辩论节目视频：