Battling domestic violence requires more legislation

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 30, 2013
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Gender inequality and discrimination are still forcing women into a relatively vulnerable position in China. This has resulted in an increasing number of domestic violence incidents in recent times.

On Jan. 25, some 100 lawyers, legal experts and NGO activists have launched a joint petition to China's Supreme People's Court, requesting it to reconsider the death penalty approval issued to a woman who was fed up with constant and serious violent domestic abuse, and killed her husband in a "deliberate and brutal" way.

Li Yan, native to Zizhong, Sichuan Province in southwestern China, was sentenced to death on Aug. 24 of last year, for the murder and dismemberment of her husband Tan Yong, who she claimed had been physically abusing her.

But the trial court and the appellate court both refused to consider her victimhood of prolonged domestic violence on the grounds of "insufficient evidence," as well as her husband's initial physical violence when the killing occurred. They sentenced her to death without reprieve.

The case has once again alerted China's entire legal community that laws to guard women from domestic violence are in fact far from completion.

China does have laws that apply to domestic violence. Criminal Law, Marriage Law, Laws on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women, Public Security Administration Punishments Law, as well as Laws on the Protection of Minors and Laws on the Protection of the Aged all contain articles to combat violence.

But such a wide range is exactly where the problem still lies: There is no law that is specifically drafted to combat domestic violence, resulting in a vagueness of applicable laws and irregularities in the courts' rulings, said Prof. Li Mingshun, vice dean of China Women's University, on Tuesday, while attending a nationwide seminar to promote such legislation.

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