Nanchang police under fire for dropping investigation into man accused of molesting daughter

Photo: City Express

Nanchang police in East China's Jiangxi Province have triggered online outrage after it dropped an investigation into a 30-year-old father who allegedly molested his five-year-old daughter on a high-speed train.

A viral video posted by a witness last week revealed that a man on the G1402, which runs from Guangzhou South Station in South China's Guangdong Province to Shangrao in Jiangxi Province, repeatedly touched a girl who told him to stop and referred to him as her father.

It can also be seen from the footage that the girl was asking help from her mother and grandmother who were sitting nearby at the time, but neither of them responded.

The witness, only identified as Xiaoyu, told Hangzhou-based City Express that she noticed the "inappropriate act" as the train arrived in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, at about 4 pm.

"The man lifted the girl's shirt and caressing her back," Xiaoyu said, adding that "he also tried to kiss her on the mouth several times."

The footage, which was widely circulated on Chinese social media, ignited anger from many netizens, prompting the police to open a probe into the accident.

But the local officials concluded on last Wednesday that the man in the video, a 30-year-old surnamed Zhou, was the father of the five-year old girl.

In a statement on its official Weibo account, they said: "Zhou's behaviour shown in the video does not constitute molestation and could not be deemed illegal. We sincerely thank citizens for their concern."

The official response ignited further anger, with many netizens taking to Weibo, China's Twitter-like service, to criticize officials for failing to fulfill their duties.

"This is not molestation because they are father and daughter? Are you officially telling me that a father can molest or rape his daughter?" wrote one Weibo user.

"This report is more disgusting than the video. You police officers are sick!" wrote another Weibo user.

State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) later published a commentary on its official Weibo account to criticize the police's investigation as "perfunctory".

"Nanchang Railway Police should not have reached such a simple and rough conclusion in response to public anger," it said, adding that "15 percent of cases of sexual assault against children last year were committed by their family members, including fathers, brothers, stepfathers, and grandfathers."

In China, many parents, especially male parents, see their children as an object they can control, so it's hard for them to know what the appropriate boundary is in communicating and interacting with their children.

In a move to protect the vulnerable group, the country's top legislator passed its first national domestic violence law in March 2016.

According to the law, those found guilty of molestation shall be sentenced to five years in jail. It also includes protections for children including mandatory reporting of suspected cases of molestation.

However, due to factors like a lack of strict enforcement and outdated concept that domestic violence is a private matter, many women and children's legitimate rights and interests have not been fully protected.

In September, a video circulated online showed a man attacking a woman on a bus in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. However, he was released after five days of detention after police concluded the man was the woman's long-time partner and father of her child.

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