Rape-By-Deception in China: A Messy But Pragmatically Desirable Criminal Law

How to Cite

Chen, J., & Lu, . B. (2023). Rape-By-Deception in China: A Messy But Pragmatically Desirable Criminal Law . Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 43(2), 151–210. https://doi.org/10.52214/cjgl.v43i2.11725


China’s Criminal Law defines rape to include circumstances where a perpetrator “by violence, coercion, or any other means rapes a woman.” We critically investigate whether and how this provision is applicable to the use of deception to obtain sexual intercourse, and make three contributions. First, through a quantitative and qualitative analysis of contemporaneous scholarly commentary and a systematic survey of court judgments from 2015 to 2020, we demonstrate that religious fraudulent sex, medical fraudulent sex, and impersonation of intimate partners are punished as rape in China. Second, we argue that the current Chinese law is normatively desirable vis-à-vis the general consensus among scholarly commentary and legal practices elsewhere. Third, we highlight the unique starting point of Chinese sexual offenses provisions as compared to both common law and civil law jurisdictions, and explain how this “blank slate” contributed to a legal evolution process that prioritizes attaining desired legal outcomes at the expense of neat, coherent principles. More broadly, our case study of China challenges the prevailing assumption in English-language literature that civil law jurisdictions are less receptive towards fraudulent sex criminalization. It also cautions against the practice of reviewing statutory provisions in isolation when determining the substantive law of civil law jurisdictions.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Jianlin Chen, Bijuan Lu