A woman relates her account of punishment by a Chinese court.
By Fenton Creek
My name is Jing-Wei and I live in the city of Chenzhou in South East China.
It is a Thursday. The air is warm but a very light rain is falling. Along with four other women and girls I am being escorted across the car park at the back of the Magistrates court and into the Correction Building.
We have been convicted of various offences. Some, like me, have just been fined. Two will go on to a short prison sentence. In common though, we are all to be flogged as well.
We are ushered through the door into a long room. Here there are six wide, low wooden tables, each about the size and height of a small bed. At each corner there is a short leather strap with a buckle.
A policewoman with a clipboard points at one of us. She has to climb onto the first table and lie face down. Her wrists and ankles are secured to the straps.
Another of us is selected for the second table. Then the third. At the fourth she points at me and I crawl on to the table and lie flat while my feet and hands are secured.
The Magistrate enters and walks up and down looking at the row of tethered women. Apparently satisfied he reaches for the policewoman’s clipboard and signs it. He then leaves and the door is closed behind him leaving two policewomen and a female usher from the Court.
At first I cannot see what is happening as the policewomen are back at the first table, but I know that they are preparing us for punishment. I hear a quiet plaintive “No”. The younger policewoman reaches the third table which is on my left. A slim woman in her forties. The WPC pulls the woman’s trousers down to her knees. The woman has black knickers underneath. These are pulled down as well leaving her bottom bare.
Now it is my turn. I feel the hem of my dress being lifted up and the policewoman’s finger in the waistband of my knickers. She pulls them halfway down my thighs. My bottom is now bared as well.
On my right, an older girl in school uniform is tethered to the table. Her skirt is pulled up and laid across her back revealing plain white knickers. She gives a little gasp as these are pulled down, leaving her bottom bare as well.
The older policewoman walks up and down behind us. By craning my neck I can see she is carrying a thin cane. She passes this to the younger woman and they walk back up to the first table.
I cannot see what is happening, but there is a sudden cracking sound then a yelp.
A second crack and another yelp. A third and a scream, followed by sobbing. One more crack, another yelp and then, in the silence, I can hear little gasps and sobs.
Another crack and a faint cry. Perhaps they have moved to the next table. Seven more strokes with a little cry after each one. Eight strokes!
Now it is the turn of the woman on my left. The cane descends. At the first stroke she grunts, then a gasp at the second stroke. At the third a long, drawn out cry. By raising my head I can see her bottom which has three red stripes across it.
At the fourth she twists almost on to her side, so far that I can see her pubic hair. The policewoman waits until she is lying flat again then gives two more strokes in quick succession. It is over, the woman seems to be gasping for air, tears pouring down her cheeks.
Now it is my turn. I cannot see what is happening, cannot predict when the stroke will come. There is the faintest hiss of air and the cane strikes my bottom. I manage to stay quiet but at the second I give a yelp. The schoolgirl is looking at me, terror in her eyes. After the third stroke it feels as if my bottom is on fire – I want to rub it but my hands are tied. The fourth stroke lands off target at the top of my thighs and makes me cry out. I’ve barely got my breath back when the fifth seems to land in the same place as an earlier stroke. This leaves me panting and gasping and my eyes watering, but for me it is over.
Now it is the schoolgirl’s turn. The older policewoman peers at the clipboard and frowns. “Seven?” Seven strokes is severe for a young offender. She calls out to the Usher who picks up a phone. There is a brief conversation then the Usher calls out: “Yes, it is seven.”
The younger WPC positions herself beside the schoolgirl’s table. By now the teenager is quietly crying, tears dripping on to the top of the table. The older policewoman quietly says “begin” and the girl closes her eyes tight in anticipation.
I can hear the gentle whoosh of the cane then the crack as it connects with the girl’s naked buttocks. She gives a little shriek as the stroke takes her by surprise. She stays quiet for the next two strokes but the fourth one invokes a loud “Owww!” The fifth one, a plaintive yell followed by: “No more, no more please.” For the sixth and seventh her screams fill the room. Then silence punctuated by gasps and sighs as she gets her breath back.
The policewomen start to untie us from the tables. The woman next to me stands up and pulls up her knickers and trousers. As soon as she has done so, she is handcuffed for her journey to prison.
My feet and then hands are untied and I slide off the table, knickers still around my thighs. I give my bottom a quick rub – it feels warm to the touch – before pulling my knickers up and straightening my dress. At the next table the schoolgirl is being helped to her feet by the older policewoman.
Outside the court building I catch the bus home.
It is crowded but that is fine as I don’t think I can sit down anyway.