China Drafts New Anti-Domestic Violence Bill For The 1st Time In Its History


China has just released information about a new law which allows the definition and prosecution of domestic violence. That’s right, up until now, there was no such law protecting its citizens from being assaulted by a family member at home.

It seems weird that any country in 2014 wouldn’t have such a basic and necessary law as this, especially the largest country in the world by population (2 billion people). However, the fact that they have finally progressed toward drafting this new law shows a step in the right direction.

The new law formally defines domestic violence for the first time and streamlines the process for obtaining restraining orders – measures long advocated by anti-domestic abuse groups. Courts must rule on restraining order requests within 48 hours, according to the draft law – but if one is granted, the victim must start a lawsuit within 30 days or it would lapse.

“Over the years, we’ve many times felt powerless ourselves to help victims,” said Hou Zhiming, a veteran women’s rights advocate who heads the Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center in Beijing.

“If this law is actually enacted – because the issuing of a draft means it will now enter the law-making process – we will be very pleased. At the very least, there’s finally movement on this law,” she said.

Nearly 40% of Chinese women who are married or in a relationship have experienced physical or sexual violence, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing figures from the All-China Women’s Federation.

The move is being hailed by many, including the United Nations, however there are still some loopholes that are making some advocate groups thinking the draft falls short.


The draft law, released by the Legislative Affairs Office of China’s State Council on Tuesday, excludes unmarried and divorced couples and falls short in some other areas.

“We know that domestic violence is also occurring in the context of other relationships not defined as family relationships, including dating, cohabiting and same-sex couples. And so, our concern is that some of the violence is not going to be addressed by the law,” said Julia Broussard, country program manager for UN Women.

Less than two decades ago, physical abuse was not even acceptable as grounds for divorce in China. In 2001, the marriage law was amended to explicitly ban domestic violence for the first time. But without a legal definition of the term, many victims — if they report abuse at all — have been shuffled from police to women’s federation to neighborhood committee, with authorities reluctant to intervene unless serious injury is involved.

Domestic violence has long been seen as a private issue, although very prevalent in China. Now, with the introduction of this bill it will allow sufferers to not stay silent and have the law on their side. Although there is criticism of the aforementioned exclusions the fact that a bill has been written up means a major step in the right direction and could possibly mean more amendments if advocate groups continue to campaign and speak up.


“It’s very important for China to have some kind of nationwide, targeted domestic violence legislation on the books, because it has not had it, and it’s been a real legal barrier for a lot of women seeking to extricate themselves from very abusive relationships,” said Leta Hong-Fincher, author of “Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China”.

“Despite the shortcomings we need to acknowledge that this is important legislation and a very important first step towards tackling this epidemic of domestic violence in China,” she said.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 40% of all murders of women worldwide are carried out by an intimate partner. Despite this shocking statistic, China is not the only country slow on the uptake of recognizing the need for anti-violence legislation. Saudi Arabia, a country known for its restrictions on women’s rights, only passed a landmark bill in 2013 that outlaws domestic abuse.

Here are a list of 20 countries which still don’t have any legislation around domestic violence: Algeria, Armenia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Haiti, Iran, Latvia, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mali, Niger, Pakistan Russian Federation, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. With the news of China finally waking up to a crime that has been swept under the carpet for too long, there could yet be hope for these countries.


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  1. Pingback: China Takes A Huge Step Forward By Passing Its First Anti Domestic Violence Law - GirlTalkHQ

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