Authorities and experts in Nanjing, capital of East China’s Jiangsu Province, are calling for more attention to the sexual needs of migrant workers due to an increase in the number of rape cases.
In one case, a 33-year-old married migrant worker was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week by the city’s Jiangning District People’s Court for raping four women.
Luo Shuang, from a village outside the district, was quoted by local newspaper Nanjing Daily as saying that he felt pained by his sexual frustration and regretted the crimes he conducted. Luo even asked judges to give him the death penalty out of shame.
"Luo is a typical example of how a migrant worker can go off the rails due to sexual frustration. This tragedy definitely deserves widespread attention, because it keeps happening again and again," said Yin Jinfu, vice-dean of the Public Prosecution Department of the Nanjing Municipal Procuratorial Department.
Statistics from procuratorial bureaus in four major districts in Nanjing showed 78 cases of rape were reported involving migrant workers between 2004 and 2005, accounting for 48 per cent of all rape cases in the districts in the period.
The youngest migrant worker rapist was only 16, while the majority were aged around 25.
Rape by migrant workers has been on the rise in recent years, according to He Gai, head of the Publicity Department of the People’s Procuratorial Bureau in Jiangning District.
"Now is the time for society to work together and put a stop to this repeating crime," he said.
Nanjing has a reported 1 million long-term migrant workers, and a survey conducted by students from a local university this May showed that most migrant workers described their lack of sex while working in the city as "unbearable."
Wu Yiming, dean of the Sociology Department of Nanjing Normal University, said ignoring the sexual needs of migrant workers, most of whom are male, will lead to physical and psychological problems.
"Migrant workers are first and foremost human beings with normal sexual needs. Society cannot ask them to adhere to laws and regulations while suppressing and ignoring their natural demands," said Wu.
Wu warned that sexual frustration might lead to social problems such as rape and prostitution.
Wu suggests that the government should prompt factories to give migrant workers regular paid holidays to return home and allow spouses to visit. Employers and authorities should also help and encourage workers to enjoy a more healthy existence outside of work.
Yin and He both added that to reduce sexual crimes by migrant workers, local governments needed to improve workers’ sense of the law and create conditions for them to lead a normal life.
A good example of how to tackle this problem can be found in Nanjing’s Xiaguan District. With large numbers of migrant workers from Anhui and Henan provinces, the district has built dozens of low-rent "love nests" that migrants can rent for 300 (US$37.5) yuan per month when their spouses come to visit.
"The house gives me much hope," said a construction worker surnamed Wu. "When the summer holiday begins, my wife and daughter can come and live with me for two months. It makes me happy to reunite my family in this city."