China should enact a law to curb domestic violence so as to make families real cells of social stability, a member of National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said Sunday.
Wu Changzhen, the CPPCC member and an expert in marriage law, is in Beijing attending the Fifth Session of the Ninth CPPCC National Committee, which opened Sunday afternoon. She is considering putting forward a proposal for such a law during the session.
Wu said that curbing family violence calls for administrative rules and regulations, and laws on criminal offenses and civil affairs, so it is suitable to draft an independent law for this purpose.
She said that more than 40 countries and regions in the world have laws and regulations on family violence and more than 20 localities in China have similar regulations, all of which can be taken as reference for drafting a national law to contain domestic violence.
A recent survey shows that the number of domestic violence cases rose by 25.4 percent in China between the 1980s and 1990s. The latest statistics indicate that some 20 percent of Chinese families have the problem of domestic violence.
Related departments in Beijing dealt with more than 120,000 disputes last year. Among them, 17 percent, or more than 22,000 of the cases, involved family violence.
Wu said that the spreading family violence is posing an increasingly serious threat on social stability in China. Children, the elderly, especially women are major victims of family violence.
The CPPCC member attributed the increase in such cases to the inrooted traditional concept of the "authority of the husband to control the wife," drastic changes in social relations that cause psychological instability of the people, and the fact that multiple understanding of lifestyle has widened interpersonal differences.
By improving the legal system, intensifying law enforcement and promoting legal publicity, China will have a law to go by in handling family violence, Wu said.
But legal means is not the best choice to handle family violence because law cannot prevent the occurrence of family violence, which often becomes complicated cases due to marriage relations and family ties.
The law expert suggested that neighborhood communities, medical service organizations and work units work in concerted efforts to help people get relaxed, adjust themselves, and become familiar with related knowledge about psychology and law.
Efforts are also needed to make full use of various resources to balance the mentality of the whole society, she added.
Actually, the revised marriage law, promulgated last year, stresses the importance of the social force against domestic violence. TV series focusing on family violence have been broadcast in many places in China for several months. In Shaanxi Province, northwest China, a hotline has been opened to provide services on preventing and handling family violence. The aid and injury exam centers in the provinces of Liaoning, Henan, Hubei and Jiangsu have offered help to victims of domestic violence.
Not long ago, the Beijing-based Tieying Hospital became the first hospital in China where doctors at its outpatient departments provide family violence victims with legal and self- protection knowledge and give them psychological support.
Traditionally, Chinese regard family violence as domestic affairs or even domestic shame that should not be made public. Today, more and more women victims of family violence turn to divorce their husbands, or seek help from relatives and legal support, a survey carried out by Beijing-based Jiangfeng Women Hotline shows.
Wu said that this proves that individuals are rapidly approaching the center of concern in the Chinese society.
(People's Daily March 4, 2002)