China formulates first anti-domestic violence law

By @pathakmishra on
Violence against women
Women take part in a performance titled "Women in Black", a social action created by Spanish artists May Serrano and Maria Seco to protest against gender violence and called by Amnesty International in downtown Malaga, southern Spain, November 19, 2015. Reuters/Jon Nazca

China’s parliament has passed its first anti-domestic violence law on Sunday. The law covers married and live-in couples but fails to protect the dignity of gay partnership.

According to activists, the new legislation adopted by China’s National People’s Congress include issues relating to psychological abuse and physical violence but does not mention of sexual violence. China’s Xinhua reported that the legislation will come into effect from March 1.

Prior to this, China did not have any special law covering family violence as it was believed that bringing such issues into focus would only mean making families feel ashamed in society, which was against traditional Chinese culture. China made amendments to its marriage law from time to time until 2001, according to which, abuse was no reason for divorce. It was considered as a private matter.

The most talked-about divorce of “Crazy English” teaching method founder Li Yang and his American spouse Kim Lee in 2013 brought the domestic violence issue into limelight. According to the Communist Party-run All-China Women’s Federation, about a quarter of women have faced violence in their families after marriage, out of which only about 50,000 complaints have been reported annually.

In around 90 percent of the cases reported in 2014, husbands were found abusing their wives. When asked at a news conference if the law covered abuse issues relating to gay couples, parliament standing committee’s Legislative Affair Commission member Guo Linmao said that the law has been formulated to cover only certain issues discovered. “There are a lot of examples of domestic violence between family members, and also between people who cohabit,” Guo said.

“As for homosexuals in our country, we have not yet discovered this form of violence, so to give you a certain answer, it can be said that people who cohabit does not include homosexuals.”

National People’s Congress Standing Committee member Deng Xiuxin claimed that the law was an appropriate move but will take time to get implemented properly. “We need to clarify the responsibilities of different departments and invest money and human resources, such as social workers,” she told the China Daily.

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