Over 30 per cent of China’s university students have experienced sexual violence or sexual harassment, a survey commissioned by the China Family Planning Association (CFPA) has found.

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Photo: Chinanews.com.

The survey was conducted between July and August of 2015 by Peking University’s School of Public Health. After screening, 17,966 completed surveys were used in the findings. 39.6 per cent of respondents were male, while 60.4 per cent were female, Oriental Daily reported.

35.1 per cent of respondents said they had experienced gender-based sexual violence or sexual harassment. The investigation showed that puberty was the peak period for sexual violence or harassment, and that 34.8 per cent of female respondents had experienced it, compared to 35.6 per cent of male respondents.

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An ad campaign by UN Women with NetEase News. Photo: Big5China.com.
  • 27.6 per cent of respondents said the perpetrators of sexual violence or harassment were fellow students or friends.
  • 26.9 per cent were the victim’s girlfriend or boyfriend – their intimate partner.
  • 14.7 per cent responded that the perpetrator was a stranger, and 11.2 per cent responded that the perpetrator was someone they met online.
  • Less than 1 per cent responded that it was a teacher or boss.

The survey found that female students were more likely to report intimate partners as perpetrators, while male students were more likely to say that the perpetrator was a fellow student or friend. About a quarter – 25.6 per cent – of female respondents said the perpetrator was their intimate partner, and about a fifth responded that the perpetrator was a fellow student or a friend. Meanwhile, 38.9 per cent of male students reported that the perpetrator was a fellow student or a friend, and about a quarter reported that the perpetrator was an intimate partner.

Students participated from around 130 colleges and universities in east, central, and west China, according to new media platform thecover.cn.

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A UN Women workshop at a school in Beijing teaching students to prevent gender based violence. Photo: UN Women Asia and the Pacific.

Julia Broussard, UN Women China Programme Manager, told HKFP that the survey’s findings are in line with the UN’s information on domestic violence in China. “Whenever the UN agencies have conducted surveys on domestic violence in China – all of which are localised studies not generalisable to the whole population of China, we have found rates slightly higher than those found in this survey.”

A 2011 survey conducted by the United Nations Population Fund in a county in China found that 39 per cent of women who were ever partnered experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, and 52 percent of men admitted to having committed an act of domestic or sexual violence against a women. Of men who perpetrated rape, 67 percent were 20-29 years old when they perpetrated rape for the first time, and 24 percent were 15-19 years old.

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File photo: Wikicommons.

“One of the most disturbing findings of this UNFPA study was that among men admitting to having ever committed rape, around 25% admitted to having first committed rape when they were teenagers.  This would be in line with the overall findings of [the CFPA] report of sexual violence and harassment among university students,” Broussard said.

Broussard said that, to her knowledge, the CFPA study of college students is the first of its kind in China.

“Based on surveys among young people and university students in other countries, we have long suspected that violence is also happening among Chinese students, particularly dating violence, but we did not have any data to demonstrate this. Now, with this report, we do.”

The China Family Planning Association has not responded to HKFP’s requests for comment.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.