The retrial result of a man with AIDS who raped a teenage girl with a mental illness and was sentenced to 10 years in prison has prompted heated discussion among Chinese netizens, who argued over whether the rapist deserved a much more severe punishment. The man was sentenced to five years in prison in his first trial.
The Intermediate People's Court in Hechi, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, announced its retrial result on Monday, sentencing Yuan Zhilei, a 47-year-old man who was aware he had AIDS, to a set term of 10 years in prison for raping a 15-year-old girl, media reported on Monday.
The public was irritated when the first trial, held in September 2020, resulted in a five-year sentence for Yuan, according to news portal The Paper.
According to media reports, the victim, surnamed Lan, has a mild mental illness and does not have the capacity to defend herself, which was confirmed by a local hospital in July 2020.
Media reports said that so far no evidence has shown that the victim has been infected with AIDS.
According to China's Criminal Law, rape cases involving victims of 14 years old and above carry a minimum punishment of five years in prison and a maximum of 10 years.
Some lawyers explained to media that intentionally transmitting a sexually transmitted disease does not constitute a crime, on top of the fact that there was no evidence to show that the victim was infected with AIDS.
As a result, a 10-year imprisonment was appropriate, lawyers said.Another lawyer reached by the Global Times, surnamed Wang, from Tianji law firm based in Henan Province, agreed with the verdict, saying that the degree of penalties in China is not only related to the offenders themselves but also the offenders' family members.
The hashtag "man with AIDS raping a 15-year-old re-sentenced to 10 years in prison" caused a great stir among Chinese netizens and has gained almost 500 million views on Sina Weibo as of Tuesday noon.
Some netizens supported the trial result, saying that the 10-year imprisonment is completely reasonable. "The maximum punishment for rape cases where the victims are 14 years old and above is 10 years. There is nothing wrong with the trial," said one netizen.
However, other netizens appeared dissatisfied with the retrial results, believing that "the judge just gave the rapist a slap on the wrist" for a person who was convicted of raping a minor as well as deliberately spreading AIDS.
Some netizens also questioned whether the current criminal penalty system showed too much "mercy" to rapists.
Some mentioned another case in which a writer in Wuhu, East China's Anhui Province, was sentenced to 10 years for writing and selling books about love between boys.
"Imagine, 10 years in prison for a writer of boys' love novels and a rapist!" read one comment under the post, which gained thousands of likes.