Rape case shocks elite Chinese university students, raises fears of off-campus accommodation safety

Wuhan University steps up security after claims dormitory guard did not respond to 17-year-old migrant worker’s screams for help

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 2:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 11:14pm

Police have detained a 17-year-old male student accused of raping a female migrant worker in a Wuhan University dormitory room, in a case that has shocked the elite institution.

Police received reports of a woman heard screaming for help at Sanhuan student halls in east Wuhan, Hubei province, in central China, at around 1am on Monday. According to an official Weibo post from Luojiashan police station on Thursday, they found and arrested the suspect nearby an hour later.

A police officer confirmed to Thepaper.cn that the suspect is a student at an unnamed local vocational college while the alleged victim is also 17 years old.

Details of the incident were posted on the official Weibo page of the Wuhan University Postgraduate Students Association on Thursday evening.

According to that report, the female victim was brought to the suspect’s room in the Sanhuan dormitory and sexually assaulted there.

None of the people involved were Wuhan University students, but the institution acknowledged the incident had made students concerned about the safety of its off-campus accommodation.

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The university said it was conducting an investigation into the incident and had also stepped up campus management measures in off-campus dormitories. These include regular security guard patrols, installation of access control systems and shuttle buses between the dormitories and campus.

The case started trending on social media on Wednesday, when a person, claiming to be the emergency caller and a Wuhan University student living at Sanhuan dormitory, posted an account of the events on an unofficial Weibo page dedicated to Wuhan University student life.

The unnamed student claimed that, at the time of the incident, the female dormitory security guard “sat there and did not respond” when the woman was heard screaming for help.

The security guard was also alleged to have told police it was a “minor quarrel between lovers, and the incident did not happen in the dormitory block”.

“In the past three days, I have realised that our most fundamental personal safety cannot be protected in this dormitory,” wrote the poster.

Netizens on Weibo have expressed concerns over campus safety and outrage at the security guard’s alleged behaviour.

“May the female security guard never rest easy forever,” read one top-rated commenter.

“Wuhan University students living at Sanhuan are scared to death! When will Wuhan University leaders let students return to safe accommodation?” wrote another user.

In recent months, a number of student halls at Chinese universities, including Beijing Normal University and Peking University, have installed AI facial recognition systems to screen entrants.

Although Sanhuan student halls is owned by Wuhan University and is located off-campus, it also houses a number of students from other local institutions, a Wuhan University student told Thepaper.cn.

Another Wuhan University student told reporters they would rent accommodation elsewhere despite being allocated a room at Sanhuan, and that the dormitory was known for being far from campus in “bad” surroundings.

While incidents of campus rape are increasingly being reported in China, cases involving migrant workers are rarely given media attention.

Police said that the case is under further investigation.