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Sub-anchor: Measures to protect the vulnerable


11-26-2016 06:45 BJT

It is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Eight months ago China passed its first law against domestic violence.

Q1. Guan Yang, the new law created a number of civil protections for victims under severe threat. A compulsory reporting system requires relevant bodies like the local police, the hospital, and relatives to file protection orders on behalf of victims who don't have the ability to do so on their own. Are these measures enough?

Chinese use the term “family violence” to describe abuse in the home. The word reflects a narrow perception of domestic violence. The problem has become a national issue thanks in large part to the 2002 drama series, “Don’t Speak to Strangers,” where domestic violence abuses were gradually uncovered by relatives and friends. People like Kim Lee have also helped put the spotlight on the issue. She is an American who went public about the abuse suffered at the hand of her former husband, a Chinese celebrity. Because of the increasing public awareness, we are where we are today - the country's first anti-domestic violence law was rolled out earlier this year. To answer the question in terms of the effectiveness of the new law, let's first take a look at this story.

As the story shows, to effectively implement the anti-domestic violence law, responsibility shouldn't be just limited to the justice system. The law clarifies the responsibilities of various stakeholders – including but not limited to government agencies, organizations, schools, medical institutions, social services, and even the media. So just like what we heard from the women's federation in the story -- it is people that protect the victims, not the law.

Q2. Let's be more specific. Whenever there is a new law being introduced, we expect constructive feedback from society. Has that been happening in this case?

About one-in-four Chinese women have suffered violence in their marriages, while almost 90 percent of reported cases involve the abuse of women, children or elderly people. Although the latest statistics on the number of civil protection orders issued nationwide after the implementation of the law haven't been disclosed yet, applications for protection orders are bound to rise with the new compulsory reporting system.

But, there is still room for improvement. For instance, 1,000 Yuan penalties and 15-day jail terms for non-compliance is not considered to be hard enough. And even though relevant parties like the police, hospitals, community services and employers are required to assist the court on law enforcement after a protection order is granted, that might be hard to enforce. Finally, the law does not cover divorced couples and former partners. And it doesn't address sexual violence and economic bullying. So these are the drawbacks that need to be fixed in order to make China's anti-domestic violence law even more effective.

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