Stronger punishments, better awareness urged to combat sexual assault of minors
June 13,2018   By:China Daily
June 13, 2018 -- A number of high-profile cases have prompted a review of school safety measures and parental oversight, as Zhang Yan reports. 
"If I had attached greater importance to looking after my daughter and taught her how to protect herself in the presence of the strangers, she wouldn't have been sexually abused," said Song Hui (not her real name), whose child was repeatedly molested by a neighbor.
During the day, the 6-year-old girl attended a kindergarten, but at night she was usually left on her own while her mother was at work.
"I am deeply worried that her mental health has been seriously hurt, because she tends to be silent and refuse contact with other people," Song said.
"I can't imagine how it will affect her in future life, or when she will really start to come out from the shadows."
The problem started in June last year. The family originally lived in North China, but when Song and her husband divorced, she took her daughter to a city in an eastern province where she had found a job running a shoe store. They knew almost no one in their new home.
The store occupied most of Song's time and she often didn't finish work until late in the evening, meaning the daughter was usually home alone.
Their neighbor, an unmarried man in his 30s, noticed Song's frequent absences, and one evening as the girl played in the yard, he gave her candies and chocolate to lure her into his rented home.
Exploiting the opportunities offered by Song's absence, the man abused the girl frequently over the course of about a month. Upset, the girl eventually told her mother, who reported the matter to the police.
In August, the local district people's procuratorate charged the man with gross indecency, and in October, he was convicted by the local district people's court and sentenced to 10 months in prison.
The case was one of thousands last year in which minors-defined as children age 14 or younger-were sexually assaulted, molested, abducted or forced into prostitution.
The situation attracted widespread attention from the public and media both at home and abroad.
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