Li Yang divorced for domestic violence

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A Beijing court on Sunday granted a divorce to American Kim Lee and Li Yang, the Chinese who won fame for his "Crazy English" language-learning method, on the grounds of domestic abuse.

Li Yang, 'Crazy English' founder.

Li Yang, "Crazy English" founder. [File photo]

The court also approved Lee's application for a three-month restraining order, according to sources with the Beijing Chaoyang District Court.

Li was warned not to beat or threaten Lee, otherwise he will receive punishments or criminal liability.

Li was ordered to pay his ex-wife 50,000 yuan (about US$7,960) in compensation for her psychological traumas, confirmed to be results of his domestic violence toward her.

"Chinese woman must defend their own rights," said Lee, adding that she was satisfied with the sentence.

The court also ruled that Lee should retain custody of the couple's three daughters, and that Li should make an annual child support payment of 100,000 yuan to each of their daughters before each turns 18.

The court judged that Li will keep the property registered in his name, the stock rights and the registered trademark of his company, while he should pay Lee a one-off sum of 12 million yuan in consideration of the property the couple shared.

Li is known for creating the concept of "Crazy English," a method of shouting to memorize and practice the language.

He has been successful since starting his English-teaching business in China in the early 1990s. Lee used to be her husband's partner as an editor of the company's publication products.

Li did not appear in court for sentencing and his attorney said that he will liaise with his client about whether to appeal.

The closely watched case was first exposed by Lee in August 2011. She posted pictures of her injuries at Li's hands on the Internet, accusing Li of abusing her several times.

A week later, Li apologized for beating his wife after the case triggered a wave of condemnation online. Li said that "it was just a quarrel between couples."

Kim Lee was soon taken as the folk hero of China's battered wives.

Lee's supporters gathered at the gate of the court with slogans during the four hearings, which were not open to the public at Li's request. The divorce proceedings lasted for one year.

Domestic violence against women has remained in the shadows for a long time in China, where the culture holds that family conflicts are embarrassing and private matters.

A survey conducted by the Beijing High People's Court shows that about 98.6 percent of victims of domestic violence are female.

Most abused wives keep silent after the violence, and only 15.1 percent of victims surveyed asked for help in their domestic violence cases, according to separate research by the Beijing Chaoyang District Court.

"It is a cheerful phenomenon in China that a consensus is forming against domestic violence," said Liu Jiahui, a female lawyer who specializes in vulnerable groups.

More and more victims are choosing to defend their rights by lawsuits. The Beijing High People's Court received 217 domestic violence civil cases in 2005 and 657 in 2011.

In spite of this, there is no specific national law covering the issue. The oversight is causing big headaches for Chinese judges in this kind of case as they have no unified judging standards and difficulty in obtaining evidence.

"Moreover, there is no social support system with effective interventions on domestic violence," said Liu.

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