Law could re­duce do­mes­tic violence

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

The first lawa­gainst do­mes­tic violence, which China’s top leg­is­la­ture adopted on Sun­day and comes into ef­fect onMarch 1, 2016, is an im­por­tant step the coun­try has taken to pro­tect the rights of women, chil­dren and se­nior cit­i­zens. The Anti-Do­mes­tic Violence Lawthat de­fines fam­ily abuse and re­quires per­sonal pro­tec­tion or­ders to be is­sued for vic­tims, if nec­es­sary, was long over­due be­cause do­mes­tic violence, es­pe­cially against women, re­mains a se­ri­ous prob­lem de­spite the coun­try’s ef­forts to pro­tect the rights of women over the past decades.

About one in ev­ery four Chi­nese women suf­fered do­mes­tic violence at some point in her life, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted by the All-Chi­naWomen’s Fed­er­a­tion in 2013. Each year, the fed­er­a­tion gets about 50,000 com­plaints of do­mes­tic violence, with ex­perts es­ti­mat­ing that more women could be vic­tims of do­mes­tic violence but they re­main silent pri­mar­ily for lack of ef­fec­tive le­gal pro­tec­tion.

Do­mes­tic violence used to be gov­erned by sep­a­rate laws and reg­u­la­tions, such as the mar­riage law. But now the newspe­cial law, which re­flects the ris­ing so­cial need to pro­tect women’s rights, will make lawen­force­ment eas­ier.

Tech­ni­cally, the clause on per­sonal pro­tec­tion or­der will serve as a more pow­er­ful safe­guard for women vic­tims. Vic­tims of do­mes­tic violence in im­me­di­ate dan­ger can seek a per­sonal pro­tec­tion or­der that has the pro­vi­sion of mov­ing the per­pe­tra­tor out of the house and re­quires a court to rule within 72 hours; in ex­treme cases, a rul­ing should be passed within 24 hours.

In the past, even af­ter vic­tims re­ported their plight to po­lice, the lat­ter found it hard to pun­ish the per­pe­tra­tors un­less the vic­tims had suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries, be­cause there was no de­tailed and prac­ti­cal lawa­gainst do­mes­tic violence. What po­lice of­fi­cers of­ten did was to per­suade the per­pe­tra­tors to stop us­ing violence, which in most cases didn’t work.

But hope­fully, the clause on per­sonal pro­tec­tion or­der will now pro­vide a fea­si­ble way out for the vic­tims and im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.

More­over, the lawalso says State employees re­spon­si­ble for stop­ping do­mes­tic violence will be pun­ished if they fail to ful­fill their du­ties. The lawwill en­sure stricter en­force­ment be­cause po­lice of­fi­cers will now be au­tho­rized to in­ter­vene to pro­tect do­mes­tic violence vic­tims, un­like in the past when they were re­luc­tant to do

so for they be­lieved that do­mes­tic violence was a pri­vate af­fair of a fam­ily.

But de­spite its many con­struc­tive stip­u­la­tions, it is too early to say that the lawwill help re­duce do­mes­tic violence cases im­me­di­ately, be­cause do­mes­tic violence is not only a le­gal is­sue but also in­volves com­pli­cated so­cial and cul­tural fac­tors. For some peo­ple, in­clud­ing women vic­tims, it re­mains a pri­vate mat­ter. And ab­surd as it may sound, some peo­ple, women in­cluded, still tend to be­lieve a woman must have done some­thing wrong to in­vite the ver­bal or phys­i­cal as­sault of her hus­band. The ab­sur­dity should prompt the au­thor­i­ties to give the poor and vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple eas­ier ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and, more im­por­tantly, re­form the school curriculum to high­light the im­por­tance of re­spect­ing women, chil­dren and the el­derly so that our chil­dren, when they grow up, will de­velop a proper sense of right and wrong and con­sciously de­sist from at­tack­ing fam­ily mem­bers.

De­vel­oped coun­tries’ ex­pe­ri­ence shows that so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions, es­pe­cially non-govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, should be en­cour­aged to play a big­ger role in im­prov­ing pub­lic con­scious­ness against so­cial ills like do­mes­tic violence and help­ing the vic­tims get jus­tice. So­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions can ef­fec­tively off­set the in­ad­e­quacy of the gov­ern­ment’s an­tido­mes­tic violence agen­cies, which are of­ten short of hands and funds.

In other words, al­though the lawis cru­cial, it will not re­duce the num­ber of do­mes­tic violence cases re­mark­ably un­less ev­ery mem­ber of so­ci­ety un­der­stands that un­leash­ing violence on fam­ily mem­bers is a breach of lawand feels ashamed for com­mit­ting do­mes­tic violence.

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