Anger in China as police clear dad of molesting 5-year-old on train
- Viral video of man kissing and caressing his daughter sparks outrage but internet users unhappy with investigation result
- Girl heard calling out to her mother and grandmother, witness said
Police response to a viral video of a man kissing and caressing his daughter on a high-speed train has set Chinese social media on fire, drawing thousands of angry comments in a sign the law may not be keeping up with changing social attitudes.
Nanchang Railway Police in China’s eastern Jiangxi province said its investigations had concluded the man’s actions did not constitute molestation and could not be deemed illegal.
The police statement, posted on China’s Twitter-like service Weibo late on Wednesday night, confirmed that the 30-year-old man in the video was indeed the father of the girl, aged five. It has been closed to comments.
The video was posted on Saturday night by a woman passenger on the G1402 high-speed train from Guangzhou South railway station to Shangrao in Jiangxi.
It was shot just before the train arrived in Changsha, Hunan province when the woman saw a man in a nearby seat with the child on his lap, repeatedly lifting her shirt and caressing her back. He also tried to kiss her several times on the mouth.
The woman later told the Hangzhou-based City Express that she heard the girl calling out to her mother and grandmother, who appeared to be sitting nearby, but neither reacted.
People rushed to condemn the man’s actions when the video was made public and the police response drew further anger from internet users on Weibo.
“So a father kissing a daughter does not constitute molestation, and a husband beating up his wife does not constitute domestic violence,” read one comment.
“An adult man lifts up a child’s clothes on public transport, kissing and licking the girl. If this doesn’t count as molesting, what does?” said another.
Wang Zhenyu, a lawyer at Beijing-based Yipai Law Firm, said that under Chinese law an action was legally defined as molestation when it was judged to have been performed with a sexual intention, but the reasoning behind the police investigation’s conclusion was unclear.
“The police may have concluded that because it was a father and daughter, the act did not constitute molestation. If that’s so, it’s illogical. Fathers can molest or even rape their daughters,” he said.
“However, they might mean that, while investigating, they found because they are father and daughter, the action did not involve sexual desire.”
Wang said he thought the case could serve as a milestone of changing social attitudes in China.
“Society’s definition of individual rights is evolving,” he said.
“If people are reacting so strongly to this video, the law needs to be interpreted without restricting sexual intent to one’s identity.
“Being a parent cannot be grounds for absolution if a man exceeds individual boundaries,” he said.