Law could reduce domestic violence
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.