Back in February, Li Tianyi, the 17-year-old son of Chinese general Li Shuangjiang, a popular singer and household name, was detained for involvement in a gang rape. The case has since remained under national spotlight due to its many controversies. First, there was the question about whether Li’s family faked his age so that he can avoid being punished as an adult. Then, there was the public outcry over the reference of his gang rape case as a case in which people “take turn to have sex.” The latest twist to the story: Li’s family insists that the victim was a bargirl and thus wants to plead innocent. But that’s not the highlight.
The highlight is a comment by Yi Yanyou, law professor and director of Tsinghua Evidence Act Center at the law school of Beijing’s Tinghua University, one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
Yesterday afternoon, in an attempt to defense Li’s lawyers’ “plead innocent” claim, Yi said:
“To emphasize that the victim is a bargirl doesn’t mean it’s OK to rape a bargirl. It only means that a bargirl is more likely to agree to a sexual act. Besides, even if it is a rape, to rape a bargirl does less harm than to rape a good woman.”
An hour later, Yi posted another message on his Weibo (China’s Twitter) account to further explain what he meant: “About the last point, I made the follow revision: It does more harm to rape a good woman than to rape a bargirl, a dancing girl, an escort or a prostitute.”
Just image the fury among Chinese netizens after they read the comments. 基辛格的地盘 joked: “So when ruling a rape case, we first need to distinguish 68 kinds of women, and then punish the offender accordingly.”
Most cannot believe that a law professor from one of China’s best universities could spit out something so wrong: “When it comes to law, there shouldn’t be any difference between a bad woman and a good woman.”
李承鹏, Weibo celebrity and popular liberal voice, commented: “It’s like that the urban law enforcement officers think it does less harm to beat up street vendors than to beat up store owners. It’s like that court securities think it does less harm to beat up petitioners than to beat up officials. China has a lot of people with such twisted logic. They judge by their own discrimination before the law.” Another popular Weibo account 假装在纽约 commented: “Those who agree with the comment have the same logic, that is, people are not equal. We are still far from a civilized society.”
Many also see the comment by Yi as a reflection of a deeper problem in China’s judicial system. What Yi commented about was a gang rape case, but his mentality may be applied in all cases. 王小山, another Weibo celebrity, commented: “A law professor from one of China’s best universities think it’s less harmful to commit crimes against one group of people than the other. Now we know why some convicts live but others die for the same kind of economic crimes. This is our reality.”
Nothing best describes what happened here than a satire from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”