I first came to China in 2007, and for several years after that during my time in China, I never felt unsafe, even walking down the street at night by myself (perhaps unwise regardless, but anyways).
But in the past year or two, perhaps coinciding with seeing a bit more sexually explicit advertising and even films, it seems like I've experienced it more than ever before...and it's not just me...news stories have been cropping up saying the same thing...sexual harassment and rape are on the rise in China.
Just last night, I was walking home with my Korean friend after dinner (we live in the same apartment complex). We were both dressed cute, but definitely not provocatively, however, it was dark outside. As we neared the road crossing by our apartment, a black car stopped in front of us. I walked around it....the car drove alongside us again, then stopped, blocking our path again. The windows rolled down and I saw it was a car full of young guys, about my age, who openly hung their heads out the window, making suggestive gestures and catcalls.
Now, to illustrate some more slight cultural differences between my friend and I, she appeared shocked and was freaked out, looking down (in my experience, my Korean friends are not very confrontational...soft-spoken and well-mannered). I, in all my fiery American glory, flipped them off with a venomous look. Suddenly, the one guy's face changed, angry obviously that I would dare to do that. He looked like he was gonna come out of the car, so I grabbed my friend's arm and we hurried across the street to the safety of shops and groups of people. "Fucking bastards." I not so eloquently sputtered, while my sweet friend murmured "aiyo, so rude!" But it actually shook me up...it felt like something that would happen in downtown San Antonio, not the streets of Inner Mongolia.
My hubby if course freaked out when he heard that "You should have called me!"
Needless to say, with several stories in recent times coming out about foreign girls being raped, it's no longer safe to walk the streets of my town in the evenings, which is sad.
While gun violence is still, of course, nonexistent compared to the United States, unfortunately other types of crime are on the rise...China is not the innocent place they used to pretend to be....