Top university blames rape on women being ‘beautiful’ and having ‘weak minds’

A prestigious university in China has come under fire for suggesting women are to blame for sexual assault.

A safety handbook given to first-year students at the Chinese Academy of Art listed a number of "factors within women" as "causes of sexual assault".

Listed are a "focus on looks and material enjoyment", "a beautiful appearance and frivolous lifestyle", "cowardliness and an inability to defend oneself" and "a weak mind and inability to resist temptations".

The handbook said sexual assault can happen at night and in the summer, and in classrooms, laboratories and dormitories.

Under a section titled "prevention of sexual assault", the handbook said "women's dormitories pose a safety issue" and recommended that female students shouldn't stay in rooms on their own.

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Women should also "take major roads at night, not talk to strangers, and not wear clothes that expose too much", it said.

Screenshots of the handbook were posted to social media on Thursday, prompting outrage from commenters who accused the university of victim blaming.

"The only reason for sexual harassment is that there are sexual harassers," one Weibo user said.

"The only way to deter potential criminals is to try those who harass others," another wrote.

The Chinese Academy of Art, founded in Hangzhou in 1928, is a fine arts college that reports directly to the Ministry of Culture of China.

The handbook had been written by the Chinese Academy of Art's security department. In response to the criticism, the department told local media the posts "only showed a small part, which was out of context".

Sexual assault on its own is not a crime under Chinese law, although specific acts are forbidden.

In 2017 the state-run newspaper China Daily sparked fury when it published an opinion piece responding to the Harvey Weinstein case that claimed sexual violence barely exists in China.

"It is a well-known fact that China is a traditional society based upon commendable values and virtues that respect the dignity and humanity of its citizens, regardless of their gender," author Sava Hassan wrote.

"Chinese authority deals harshly with those who disrespect themselves by behaving inappropriately toward others."

The article was later taken down after a mass outcry from women who said sexual assault was in fact a big problem for the country.

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