Chinese prosecutors have charged 22 swingers who joined a wife-swapping club with criminal licentiousness, a crime that carries a five-year sentence.
The case has stirred fierce debate among lawyers, sex experts and the public over whether the practice really merits a place in the criminal code at a time of calls for greater sexual freedoms and when brothels are found on many streets in the heart of Beijing.
The mastermind of the club was associate professor Ma Xiaohai, a master of mathematics who worked at an unidentified university in the southern city of Nanjing.
He said that he began to explore online sex chat rooms amid his loneliness and depression after two acrimonious divorces and the loss of his two children in custody battles.
Ma, 53, has been under police supervision at his home, taking care of his aging mother, since August last year when he was arrested after a tip-off to police that he was organizing spouse-swapping parties at his home.
He told a reporter who visited him recently, "At first the chat room discussions were very clean, with most people discussing their marital problems." But gradually, as more and more people joined in, the conversation widened until spouse-swapping became the hottest topic. Soon the forum included as many as 190 members.
Ma explained that, as discussion became more heated, so the temptation grew. Finally, people began to gather at his apartment to put into practice their sexual predilections.
He said, “Every couple has this or that kind of issue – a marriage is like a bowl of water that has to be drunk, swapping partners is like a bowl of sweet wine.”
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