IX. Legal Guarantees of Women's Rights and Interests

The state's legal system for protecting women's legitimate rights and interests has been improved constantly. In the last decade, China has enacted and revised, in succession, the Marriage Law, the Population and Family Planning Law, the Law on Rural Land Contracting, and the Law on Protection of Rights and Interests of Women, and promulgated and implemented over 100 rules and regulations concerning the protection of women's rights and interests, such as the Regulations on Implementing the Law on Mother and Infant Healthcare.

Gradually setting up a socialized work mechanism for protecting women's rights and interests. The state has established a national coordination group for the protection of women's and children's rights and interests, composed of members from 19 government departments. Some courts have established specialized tribunals to accept and adjudicate civil cases involving the protection of women's rights and interests, and people's jurors from women's federations and other relevant organs are invited by the courts to participate directly in the hearing of such cases. The state has made positive efforts to cultivate gender awareness among law enforcement and judicial officials, bringing into full play judicial officials' role in safeguarding women's rights. The state also sets store by increasing the number of female judicial officials and their ratio in the total number. In 2004, female judges and procurators accounted for 22.7 percent and 21.7 percent of the total numbers, up 5.9 percentage points and 5 percentage points, respectively, as compared with 1995.

Holding legal aid and publicity activities concerning the legal system for safeguarding women's legitimate rights and interests. To ensure that women's legitimate rights and interests are properly protected, the relevant department of the Chinese government issued a special notice, stressing that no legal aid institutions, law firms, notarization institutions or grassroots legal service institutions may decline to handle or postpone without proper reason an accusation, appeal or prosecution that involves infringement on women's rights and interests. Moreover, legal service fees should be reduced or exempted for women in straitened circumstances. The Regulations on Legal Aid, put into effect in China in 2003, expressly stipulates that it is the government's responsibility to provide legal aid, and citizens in straitened circumstances can obtain legal aid free of charge, which therefore provides material aid to impoverished women against infringement of their rights. By the end of 2004, 3,023 governmental legal aid institutions had been established in China. In addition, the Chinese government also supports NGOs' efforts to set up hotlines to protect women's rights and legal consultation centers to provide legal aid and similar services for women. China is now engaged in its fourth five-year publicity campaign. Highlighted in the publicity activities are the Law on Protection of Rights and Interests of Women, the Labor Law, the Marriage Law, the Population and Family Planning Law, and the Law on Rural Land Contracting, all of which are closely related to women's rights and interests.

Combating domestic violence against women and taking practical measures to solve the problem. The Criminal Law, the Criminal Procedure Law, the General Rules of the Civil Law, the Marriage Law, and the Law on Protection of Rights and Interests of Women all forbid violence against women by anyone and in any form. Legislation and judicial practice both stress that those who have committed domestic violence against women shall be penalized in civil and criminal terms according to the seriousness of the violence, and active legal aids should be provided to the victims. In recent years, local statutes outlawing domestic violence have been enacted in some areas, and by the end of 2004 some 22 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government) had formulated such rules, policies and measures. Besides, the Chinese government has cooperated actively with NGOs to launch intervening projects, as well as vigorous publicity, education and training activities; set up alarm centers, injury assessment centers and women's aid stations; open anti-domestic-violence hotlines; and provide multiple services for female victims, including consultation, shelter, medical care and psychological help.

Stringently cracking down on crimes of abducting and trafficking in women. The charges for abduction, trafficking in and buying women were revised and added to the Criminal Law in 1997, and the penalties for such crimes were made more severe. The Supreme People's Court has laid down judicial interpretations on the related legal clauses to facilitate their execution. In recent years, public security organs throughout the country have taken a series of special actions to crack down on the abducting of and trafficking in women and children, set up transfer, training and rehabilitating centers for rescued women and children. All these actions have achieved remarkable results. Meanwhile, the public security and judicial organs have made the crackdown on the crimes of abducting and trafficking in women and children an important field of international cooperation, and have signed agreements on bilateral police service cooperation and treaties on judicial assistance in criminal cases with related countries in joint undertakings to prevent and crack down on crimes of abducting and trafficking in women and children.

Protecting the legal rights of female criminals and criminal suspects. The state strictly observes the system of separate jails and management for male and female criminals, with female criminals directly managed by policewomen. Women doctors are assigned to female criminals, and the latter are allowed to spend festivals with their minor children. Education in law, culture and vocations suitable for female criminals' physiology and psychology, and a rich variety of cultural and sport activities are conducted to help their rehabilitation.