Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is premarital sex still immoral in China?

"In January 2003, students Xiao Lin and Xiao Ma made an ignominious departure from Chongqing Institute of Posts and Telecommunications. The reason? Their ongoing relationship had resulted in Xiao Ma's pregnancy. Consequently they were expelled.

The relevant school rule reads: In cases of immoral behavior, offenders will either receive a warning or an entry in their personal dossier. In extreme cases of sexual misconduct, offenders will be suspended or expelled.

The latter more stringent ruling applied to Xiao Lin and Xiao Ma. They were instructed to admit their immoral behavior and sexual misconduct and write self-criticisms. Xiao Lin and Xiao Ma refused, insisting their love was not immoral, and that what had occurred as a natural course of passion was not sexual misconduct.

Xiao Ma is regarded by those that know her as conscientious and hardworking. One teacher described her as a pleasant, lively student of broad interests. Her boyfriend Xiao Lin considers her kind and considerate.

Xiao Ma wrote in her self-criticism: "I cannot reconcile myself to being charged with immoral behavior and sexual misconduct. I gave myself to the man I love, and have no regrets, no matter what consequences await me."

Said Xiao Lin: "I admit to her (Xiao Ma) and her parents that I am to blame, and acknowledge that it is I that should be punished. But I cannot accede to the school's order that we admit to immoral conduct and sexual misconduct. I believe college students are entitled to the same rights and considerations as all Chinese citizens, including the right to have sex. She (Xiao Ma) and I are genuinely in love. What happened between us was a failure to control our passions, but it did no harm to society, the school, nor anyone else."

Xiao Ma's father is a government employee. Although shocked at his daughter's behavior, he is nonetheless furious at the school's treatment of his daughter and Xiao Lin. He argues that the school should bear in mind how fierce competition makes it extremely hard for two such young people to get into college, particularly Xiao Lin, who comes from rural Fujian Province and on whom rest the hopes of his whole family. He went on to say that the school has a responsibility to educate, and that it should not castigate these two as immoral and depraved, as this denies them their right to an education and so seriously prejudices their future.

The school is, however, adamant. President Nie Neng says, "Moral cultivation is an integral aspect of the school code. Those failing to observe it must be punished. Sex outside marriage is morally reprehensible. If in this instance it is excused on the basis of being true love, there will be severe repercussions. As an educator, I cannot overlook this misdemeanor." A teacher at the school commented: "If these two are not punished, other students will interpret it as the school's acquiescence of such occurrences."

In late 2002, Xiao Lin and Xiao Ma filed a lawsuit against the school for encroaching upon their rights to privacy and education. In January 2003, the court overruled their lawsuit, but the case is now a topic of media interest."

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