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Chinese experts call for legislation to eliminate domestic violence against women

English.news.cn   2011-11-24 18:27:17 FeedbackPrintRSS

CHONGQING, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Chinese experts have called for special laws on domestic violence to better protect women ahead of this year's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which falls on Friday.

Sun Yuanming, a researcher at the Chongqing Municipal Academy of Social Science, said current Chinese laws are "rather powerless" in protecting women from domestic abuse, as the scarce provisions scattered in various acts are mostly inoperable.

According to a survey conducted by the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) and the National Bureau of Statistics last December, about 24.7 percent of women have experienced domestic abuse, in the form of verbal humiliation, physical assault, deprivation of personal freedom, illegal control of income or marital rape.

Xiao Xia from southwestern Sichuan province is one of the more than50,000 victims of domestic violence to have complained to the ACWF over the past two years.

She had been beaten by her husband, Wu Liang, over 20 times.

"I am so scared that I have been clinging to this stick for nearly one month since I fled from him," Xiao said, brandishing her basic weapon of self-defense.

"There was always a reason to beat my wife. So what?" Her migrant worker husband insisted.

Domestic violence occurs not only in less-educated families, such as those in rural villages; it is not rare among families with higher education, according to research.

The ACWF survey indicated that 5.5 percent of domestic abuse incidents were reported to authorities, with a rate of 7.9 percent in rural areas and 3.1 percent in cities.

Li Yang, an English teacher who gained fame for his "Crazy English" method of language learning in the mid-1990s, became notorious as an abuser after his wife posted online pictures depicting injuries he allegedly inflicted upon her.

Li's case has once again brought the topic of domestic violence, usually considered as a private and shaming issue, into the public eye.8 Though his wife, Kim Lee, filed for divorce last month, no charges have been brought against Li.

ACT NOW

The frequent reports of domestic violence have inspired China's lawmakers to act. According to a report approved by China's top legislature on Oct. 29, lawmakers are considering whether to draw up a separate law against domestic violence.

If brought into practice, the proposed law will be the first of its kind in China, though there is still no timetable for its promulgation.

Law experts say such a law would allow police to crack down on abusers and give people such as Kim Lee and Xiao Xia more solid grounds to prosecute.

Chen Wei, vice chairwoman of the China Law Society's marriage and family law branch, said the promulgation of such a law would also create a sound environment to raise people's awareness to say no to domestic violence.

Before the law is put in place, abused women can rely on mechanisms such as hotlines and sanctuaries put into place by governments and various women's rights organizations.

The Research Institute on Applying Science of Law under the Supreme People's Court has compiled a guide, for use in several pilot cities, that advises better treatment for victims in court cases involving domestic violence.

A court in Chongqing, one of the pilot cities, has sentenced a woman who killed her husband after years of abuse and gave herself up to the police to only five years in prison.

Editor: Deng Shasha
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