CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, May 16, 2022

Chen & Chong on Moral Panic and Religious Fraudulent Sex

Jianlin Chen and Shao Yuan Chong (University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School and Singapore Management University) have posted The Curse of the Lecherous Spiritual Charlatans: Law, Moral Panic and Newspaper Reports of Rape by Religious Fraud in Taiwan (University of Pennsylvania Asian Law Review, Vol. 17, 89-136 (2022)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Religious fraudulent sex (i.e., the use of religious-related deceptions to obtain sex) is regularly prosecuted in Taiwan as forcible sex (i.e., rape). This Article contributes to the legal and sociological understanding of this phenomenon. Legally, we highlight the legal peculiarities of the vigorous criminalization of religious fraudulent sex in Taiwan and demonstrate that it is not driven by any concerted or principled protection of sexual autonomy. Sociologically, we provide an explanation through examining newspaper reports of highly publicized religious fraudulent sex in three mainstream newspapers over a five-year period. Thematic and discourse analysis reveals an overarching moral panic narrative. Through the three themes of 1) lurid norm-challenging sex acts, 2) moral condemnation of the perceived outrageous religious falsehood, and 3) defilement of victim’s innocence, the newspaper reports vividly depict the religious fraudulent sex phenomenon as lecherous men entrapping naïve vulnerable young women into deviant religious practices. We argue that this moral panic narrative rationalizes and reinforces the vigorous prosecutorial enforcement and the determined judicial innovation that is otherwise absent for other forms of fraudulent sex.

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