Prominent lawyer accused of long-term sexual abuse . . .
The alleged sexual assault of a teenage girl by a prominent lawyer in China has sparked discussions around the country’s #MeToo movement and the age of consent. The victim, using the pseudonym Xingxing, accused her supposed guardian and caretaker, Bao Yuming, of sexually abusing her for three years, starting when she was 14 years old. Bao, a high-profile lawyer in his late 40s, has advised multinational companies including Cisco and ZTE. Bao has denied any wrongdoing, claiming Xingxing has consented by having a “close relationship” with him. Bao’s clients have reportedly terminated their contracts.
Legal vacuum around the age of consent . . .
Xingxing’s story has angered the Chinese public and it has become one of the most widely discussed topics on social media. According to reports, Bao carefully planned his first alleged assault shortly after Xingxing turned 14, the legal age of consent in China. The age of consent is premised upon a minor’s physical, psychological, and emotional maturity, but Chinese teenagers largely have a weak understanding of sexual activity and its potential consequences due to the country's lack of sex education programs.
Global trend of raising age of consent . . .
While China’s age of consent is lower than the global average of 16, it is by no means an isolated case. Other countries that have the age of consent at 14 include Austria, Brazil, Germany, Italy, and Portugal. In Asia, there is a wide range, with Japan at 13, India at 18, and South Korea at 20. However, lawmakers around the world have been raising the age of consent. Between 2004 and 2016, more than half of the European jurisdictions raised the consent age to 16 or older. In Canada, the age of consent was 14 until 2008, when the Conservative government raised it to 16 as part of the Tackling Violent Crimes Act.
- CBC News: Canada's age of consent raised by 2 years
- The Guardian: Abuse allegations in China spark calls to raise age of consent from 14
- The New York Times: Anger erupts in China after teen says guardian repeatedly raped her