Law to get tough on domestic violence

Updated: 2015-03-05 03:42


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Guideline includes death penalty for issue traditionally regarded as a private matter

Committing domestic violence can result in penalties as severe as the death sentence, according to a guideline released by China’s top judicial authorities on Wednesday.

The guideline gives clear definition on crimes relating to domestic violence, including intentional injury, homicide, and abuse, and specifies penalties for such crimes.

Police, prosecuting agencies and courts should take action immediately after receiving reports about domestic violence and accept the cases according to law. They should also take measures to better protect the rights of the victims of such violence, such as helping them collect evidence if necessary, according to the guideline, which was jointly released by the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice.

China still lacks a special law on domestic violence, which causes legal difficulties in domestic violence criminal cases, difficulties such as starting legal procedures and giving verdicts, Yang Wanming, a judge at the Supreme People’s Court, said.

“Some judicial authorities tend to regard domestic violence as a private issue among family members and refuse to intervene or accept the cases, and some criminal cases of domestic violence are handled as civil disputes,” Yang said.

Local regulations on fighting domestic violence have been adopted by 22 provinces. Some national laws, including the Marriage Law and Law on Protecting Women’s Rights, also include articles on fighting domestic violence, according to the State Council’s Legislative Affairs Office.

China’s first draft law against domestic violence was published to solicit public opinion in November. The period of consultation ended on Dec 25.

The draft is expected to be submitted to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, for review in the latter half of this year, Fu Ying, spokeswoman of the third session of the 12th National People’s Congress, said on Wednesday.

Domestic violence has increased in recent years. According to a report released by All-China Women’s Federation last year, nearly 40 percent of Chinese women who are married or involved in a relationship experience physical or sexual abuse, and only 7 percent of women surveyed who had experienced domestic violence called the police.

On Sunday, a 6-year-old girl in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, was beaten to death by her mother, surnamed Shen, who is pregnant with another baby, during a quarrel, according to a report of Qianjiang Evening News.

Guo Jianmei, a member of the China Law Society and an advocate for women’s rights, said legislation against domestic violence may check its widespread occurrence in China.

“Non-government organizations and women’s rights campaigners have called for the legislation for more than 20 years,” she said.

The biggest obstacle to such legislation is that many legislatures fail to pay enough importance to domestic violence, she said.

“The traditional Chinese culture is that domestic issues are private issues and allow no interference from outsiders,” she said.

On Wednesday, the Supreme People’s Court also released five typical cases of domestic violence handled by courts across China in recent years.

In one case, Mu Zhengying, of Qujing, Yunnan province, was sentenced to life in prison for beating his 5-year-old daughter to death in February 2014. His lenient sentence stemmed from the fact he voluntarily reported himself to the police.

“Vulnerable groups, including minors, seniors and disabled, must be fully protected by the law,” said Chen Shiqu, an official in criminal investigation at the Ministry of Public Security.