A survey studying sexual assaults on minors in rural areas of Sichuan province has found at least one in ten children between the ages of 6 and 12 have been molested.
The study, which randomly surveyed schools in rural parts of the southwestern province, revealed that less than 90 per cent of the minors polled could clearly state they had never experienced any form of sexual harassment. It also found that as many as 80 per cent of the alleged offences were conducted by acquaintances or familiar faces of the under-age victims.
Wang Jinxin, director of Sichuan Sexual Sociology and Education Research Centre, revealed the results of the study to an academic forum discussing protection from sexual crimes for minors held at the Chengdu Technological University on Monday,
“The data shows children in Sichuan have poor awareness and [few] abilities to protect themselves,” Wang told the forum, according to the West China Metropolis Daily. “And migrant workers’ children left behind in villages were the most vulnerable subjects of sexual crimes."
The age range covered by the survey overlaps with elementary school population.
Over 15 per cent of those interviewed in the survey said they have been deliberately touched on the chest, or had been asked to touch others’ breasts or genitalia. Four-and-a-half per cent said they had been assaulted physically, with some reporting their genitalia being stucked with items by others, the newspaper reported.
“A certain portion of the students surveyed either failed to comprehend the questions asked, or deliberately evaded them. The proportion of students being sexually abused is thus expected to be even higher,” the study concluded.
The survey also underscored a lack of unawareness among pupils about potential sexual assaults. Slightly more than 20 per cent of children of both sexes interviewed were ignorant about their own sexual organs. And 40 per cent of the victims chose to conceal the offences made against them after the event.
Wang could not be reached on Tuesday, and Cheng Jing, a spokeswoman for the research centre, declined to elaborate on the study in a telephone interview with the South China Morning Post, saying the institution was still in the process of putting together a complete study report on the survey.