Call for action on domestic violence

Updated: 2012-11-26 07:55

By Huang Yuli in Shenzhen and He Dan in Beijing (China Daily)

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Women's rights campaigners have urged authorities to heed growing calls for a speedy introduction of a dedicated law on domestic violence.

In an open letter, Gender and Development in China said legislators should encourage participation and supervision from the public and grassroots organizations.

The letter, addressed to the National People's Congress Standing Committee, was published on Sunday, the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Gender and Development in China, a Beijing website focused on gender equality, said it aims to collect 10,000 signatures on a petition demanding the legislation process be quicker and more transparent. So far it has collected around 2,500 signatures, the group said.

The letter also called for the NPC Standing Committee to make public what work has been done so far, and proposed giving more resources to grassroots organizations to participate in the fight against domestic violence.

Li Yueyang, director of the legal department at the All China Women's Federation, said a poll of more than 1,000 people in 20 provinces last year found 93.5 percent support the introduction of a domestic violence law.

The standing committee has included making a dedicated law in its legislative agenda this year, she said at a symposium in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Saturday.

At the forum, experts, officials and social workers from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao shared their research and experiences in the field.

Li said there are many inadequacies in the current legal system in regard to domestic violence. Under the current system, domestic violence is not clearly defined and most items on the laws and regulations are declarative slogans and lack room for interpretation and procedures for enforcement.

A condemnation of domestic violence was first written into the Marriage Law in 2001 and then in the Minor Protection Law, as well as in the local regulations of 28 provinces and municipalities, she said.

Huang Qiao, a social worker in Shenzhen's Luohu district who has worked for three years helping female victims of domestic violence, said she has found domestic violence is spreading among people with higher education.

"Some of those with a college degree tend to behave more radically, and sometimes they have strong desire to control. They believe they have the right to hit their wives," she said. "People become violent toward their family member when they have just experienced hardship in their lives, like losing a job. Affairs have also become a significant cause for domestic violence."

A national survey conducted by the All China Women's Federation last year, found one in every four women in China has experienced violence at home, verbally and physically, including having their freedom restricted and forced to have sexual relations.

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