According to Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Counseling and Service Center, the rape of girls under the age of 14 in China is occurring with increasing frequency. The Center specializes in women’s legal aid, research and advocacy in China and supports rape victims by helping them understand their legal rights and guiding them through the criminal justice system. In the course of their work, the Center identified two legal issues that are negatively impacting rape victims, namely: obstacles to accessing compensation for mental suffering resulting from rape, and the disparity between punishments for rape and the prostitution of under-age girls.
A loophole in the law in China has caused many perpetrators of rape to claim that they are guilty of prostitution with an under-age girl, rather than rape, so as to avoid the more severe punishment of capital punishment. This has caused controversy in China, and people have started advocating for the crime of prostitution of under-age girls to be abolished. Further, under the laws of China, during the criminal procedure, rape victims are not able to make a claim for mental suffering resulting from rape.
The Center approached TrustLaw Connect for assistance to help them understand the legislative approaches to these issues in different countries. Vinson & Elkins LLP, in a leading role, together with McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Drew & Napier LLC and other firms carried out research in 8 jurisdictions, including: Canada, the UK, US, Germany, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Taiwan. The Center used the research to prepare a proposal highlighting key issues that they submitted to the National People’s Congress annual conference in 2013, with the hope of reforming the law, strengthening protections for women and girls, and improving access to compensation for rape victims.