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Liability for Suicide in Qing Law on Account of Filthy Words

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This essay examines the Qing legislation enacted in the course of the eighteenth century to impose punishments on men who used 'filthy language' towards a woman, so driving her to commit suicide. In addition, the decisions of the Board of Punishments, interpreting this legislation, are discussed. Essentially, three distinct offences are to be identified: (i) tiaoxi or the use of words expressing a desire to have sexual intercourse (punished capitally), (ii) xiexia or the use of words of commonplace abuse without sexual invitation (punished with exile), and (iii) xixue or the use of words of mockery or ridicule, disclosing an intention to humiliate or shame a woman (punished capitally). Some observations are also made on the relationship between the legislation and the concept of chastity.

Affiliations: 1: University of Aberdeen


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