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Top court aids victims of domestic violence

By CAO YIN | China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-26 07:24
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Burden of proof to be lowered for person seeking protection order against abuser

Chinese courts are expected to moderately reduce the burden of proof on domestic violence victims when they apply for personal safety protection orders, an official of China's top court said.

The orders, similar to restraining orders in the West, were made available after the Anti-Domestic Violence Law came into effect in March 2016. Liu Min-deputy chief judge of the No 1 Civil Division of the Supreme People's Court, the nation's top court-said issuing the orders is a useful measure against domestic violence and the system needs to be further improved across the nation.

She made the remarks on Wednesday, which was International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, when the court held a news conference to review the order issue and release 10 influential related cases that occurred after the law took effect.

Statistics from the court showed that courts nationwide issued 5,749 such orders between March 2016 and December last year.

"It has played a bigger role in protecting the personal safety and dignity of victims, especially women, children, the elderly and the disabled," said Zheng Xuelin, chief judge of the civil division.

He said many courts, like the Beijing Xicheng District People's Court, have streamlined the process of accepting applications and granting orders more quickly to reduce the possibility of further harm to the victims.

"But what we have done is still far from enough, and the work against domestic violence by rule of law can be further promoted," Liu said.

"I think we can moderately lower the bar of evidence standards for victims if we find they are very likely suffering from domestic violence," she said, calling on judges to help such victims collect evidence in line with the law and to reduce their burden of proof.

Liu regarded issuing the order as the first legal step of stopping domestic violence and as a threat to abusers, "so we have to accelerate the building of such a firewall between victims and perpetrators to prevent further harm."

She said they will follow the granted orders to see whether the measure is effective in protecting the personal safety of victims, but she also noted the fight against domestic violence still needs stronger joint efforts from others, especially public security agencies and women's federations.

Gao Shawei, head of the All-China Women's Federation's rights and interests department, said they have also intensified efforts against domestic violence by working with courts, including offering legal and psychological aid for victims as well as regularly exchanging information with judges.

"If a woman or child calls police several times after suffering domestic violence but the problem is still unsettled, we'll help her or the child come to the public security department and contact a temporary shelter for the victim to keep them from being harmed again," she added.

Besides domestic violence between family members, such violence between people in non-family relationships, including those between divorced couples or former unmarried couples, should also be given close attention and must be stopped.

In a case the top court disclosed on Wednesday, a woman from the Haizhou district of Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, applied for the protection order at the Haizhou District People's Court, claiming her ex-husband had been harassing her since their divorce.

The court granted the order, ordering the man to neither harass the woman nor her close relatives, as the law clarifies non-family members like those unmarried couples or divorced couples should also be protected if they suffer domestic violence.

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