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5 Representation and Practice in “Privately Settling Illicit Sex Offenses,” with Attention to the “Third Realm” from the Late Imperial Period to the Present

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Chapter Summary

Operating under the model of two-party court litigation, the Qing crime of "privately settling illicit sex offenses" proceeded from the fundamental starting point of the state's desire to uphold the public interest and made it the victim's obligation to report the crime and file suit. From late imperial China to today, privately settling sex offenses has been an area where informal societal regulations and the formal legal system have continually jostled with each other. Along with transition from a "substantive" to a "formalized" legal system, the tension between the representation of Qing law and its practice has evolved into the modern distinction between civil and criminal law. The denial of private settlement under the state prosecution system represents a dangerous derivative of the rigidification experienced under the "formalization" of the law. Cases that fall under prosecution only upon complaint by the victim herself are susceptible to abuse by the powerful.

Keywords: late imperial China; Qing law; sex offenses

10.1163/9789004276444_007
/content/books/b9789004276444_007
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