Domestic violence law too weak to protect women

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, June 28, 2010
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Women's rights advocates Sunday said there is a need for new legislation to protect victims of domestic violence and to punish offenders severely.

About 100 advocates from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan back a draft proposal during a two-day seminar organized by the Anti-Domestic Violence Network of China Law Society (ADVN), a Beijing-based NGO.

The organization has been pushing for women's rights and gender equality since its founding 10 years ago.

"The existing laws and regulations can't effectively deal with the problem of domestic violence, therefore unified anti-domestic violence legislation is urgently needed," said Chen Mingxia, the founder of ADVN.

Official statistics revealed that about 36 percent of families have experienced violence, especially women, children and the elderly, the Xinhua News Agency reported last year.

The problem appears to be more severe in rural areas where about 62 percent of women in 31 provinces were victims of domestic violence, the All China Women's Federation (ACWF) said.

"In China, where open discussions of domestic violence is taboo, it is very difficult to have the police get involved as they think domestic issues need to be solved domestically," Yi Beibei, a project officer at ADVN, told the Global Times.

The Marriage Law says domestic violence is illegal but fails to define it properly, Yi said.

The 2005 revision that offers new rights to women, also outlawed domestic violence and said police must respond to complaints. But Beijing Youth Daily reported in 2009 that few victims reach out to police.

"The draft extends to the subjects of domestic violence including married couples to people who are dating, and the definition covers various forms of bodily, sexual and psychological harms and economic damages," Yi said.

The proposed draft by ADVN that was first submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) in 2003 failed.

"It was because the time was not yet ripe for the adoption of the law," said Li Hongtao, deputy director of ADVN.

The new draft will be submitted to the NPC during a legislative meeting in March 2011.

Women's federations received an average of 40,000 to 50,000 domestic violence complaints between 2004 and 2008, ACWF said.

Fang Gang, a sexologist and sociologist at Beijing Forestry University, told the Global Times that family violence is a result of male chauvinism.

"Some men think being nice to their wife doesn't make them feel like a man," he said.

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