Saturday, June 26, 2010

Changing sexual mores in China

Swinger Tests China’s Sex Morals
"On Thursday, a court sentenced Mr. Ma to three-and-a-half years in prison, a severe penalty for a crime that the Chinese government calls “crowd licentiousness.” Mr. Ma, now China’s most famous swinger, remains defiant and plans to appeal, saying his sex life is his own business, not subject to the law as long as he causes no social disturbance, according to his lawyer, Yao Yong’an. "
"The case of Mr. Ma, who was arrested last August and went on trial last month, has drawn attention across China not only for its titillating details, but also because it also raises questions about an authoritarian government’s attempts to curb sexual freedom and limit privacy in a society where rapid economic growth and the ubiquity of the Internet have upended traditional values. "
"The Communist Party no longer maintains the kind of tight control over people’s private lives that it did decades ago. Yet, some officials still try to prosecute citizens based on laws that seem increasingly out of step with social mores. One example is criminal law 301, under which Mr. Ma and 21 fellow swingers were prosecuted, and which can result in a five-year prison term.
Chinese Internet users and even some official news organizations have debated the case."
"The law against group sex, generally interpreted by judges as involving three or more people, is left over from an earlier law against “hooliganism” that was used to prosecute people who had sex outside of marriage, Ms. Li said. The hooliganism law was scrapped in 1997. One notable swingers case took place in the early 1980s, when the leader of a swingers club involving four middle-aged couples was executed, she added.
At least three recent surveys have shown that prosecution of group sex does not enjoy widespread support today.
Several Chinese news Web sites posted editorials echoing that sentiment after the verdict was announced. "

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