A group of Chinese experts from legal, judicial and medical sectors urged the nation to eradicate domestic violence in a proclamation over the weekend.
"Domestic violence against women is a worldwide social problem... a violation against women's human rights as well as a major obstacle in women's development and social growth," reads the proclamation, written after a two-day seminar in Beijing.
"We must realize that domestic violence is part of the social violence that we police must fight against," said Jiang Bo, vice-president of the China Police Society.
The problem was termed "a matter of grave social concern" by Sun Wanzhong, vice-president of the China Law Society, which has coordinated the national project to concoct ways to stop domestic violence in urban communities and villages across the country.
The Women's Rights Department - established in 1983 within the All-China Women's Federation - and its local branches received 155,484 letters of complaints about family and marriage matters from women last year. Among the letters, 15.5 percent revealed that the women suffered domestic abuse.
Surveys indicate that domestic violence against women not only causes mental and bodily harm but also endangers social stability, said Qiu Zongren, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Wife battering hurts everybody, from the wife to children," said Zheng Guohua, a 43-year-old farmer from Hebei, who endured two decades of beatings from her husband. She sued for divorce three years ago after a beating left her nearly dead.
The national project, launched last year, is aimed at encouraging national and local lawmakers to outlaw domestic violence and set up help agencies for victims. Several experiments have been tried in urban and rural areas in the 16 months since the founding.
"Preventing and eradicating domestic violence is not a job merely for women but also an unshakable government responsibility if it wants to win support from the public and communities," said Wang Lixian, deputy director of the Furong district government in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province. The district vowed to ensure the communities under its jurisdiction curb domestic violence in its 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05).
People's congresses in Sichuan Province, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Changsha have introduced legislation calling for intervention and prohibition of domestic violence.
The weekend programme also launched China's first website to combat domestic violence, which can be reached at: www.stopdv.org.cn.
(People's Daily November 12, 2001)