Primarily based on official archives produced from Mao’s China in the mid-1950s to 1963 in Wuwei County, Anhui Province, this article explores sexual abuse carried out by local cadres of the Chinese Communist Party around the time of Mao’s Great Famine (1958–1961). It first clarifies key concepts of sexual abuse and then reviews the crucial role of grain in many sexual cases. Further efforts are made to discuss the female victims, male perpetrators, and institutional factors of these crimes. A series of political, economic, and social policies, systems, and movements of highly centralized governance set up institutional traps for disadvantaged female victims who were “liberated” from traditional households. Supplemented with other local cases, the article argues that the overlap of state patriarchy and the authoritarian party-state made women vulnerable to local cadres and institutionalized sexual abuse. The case of Wuwei indicates that Mao’s regime was yet another form of gender domination.


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pp. 33-57
Launched on MUSE
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