Action demanded to stop violence against women

By Wu Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-28 08:17

Officials and non-governmental groups have made an urgent call for more action to prevent violence against women.

"When it comes to the elimination of violence against women, there is no ground for tolerance," said Khalik Malik, UN Resident Co-ordination in China.

Malik was speaking at a press conference organized by the UN Gender Theme Group in China to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which falls on Saturday.

The event kicked off a 16-day international campaign against gender violence, which includes domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape.

"Fundamentally, it is time for us to make the commitment publicly and personally," Malik said.

About 34.7 per cent of families suffer from domestic violence, according to a survey conducted by the Domestic Violence Network in nine cities of three provinces between 2000 to 2001, the latest figures available.

About 80 to 90 per cent of these victims are female, said Chen Mingxia, chair of the board of the network.
The picture is gloomier in rural China, where more than 170,000 women die of suicide every year.

Of these suicide cases, 66 per cent were a result of domestic violence, said Xie Lihua, director of the cultural development centre for rural women.

More than one third of rural women suffer from physical violence every few months, Xie said. Her figures were based on 10 years of investigation in rural areas of China.

Li Ying of the Centre for Women's Law Studies and Legal Services for Peking University Law School, said current legislation was too general and could not properly protect victims.

For example, the law only covers married couples, not those cohabiting.

To fill in some of these gaps, Li's centre has co-operated with authorities in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on establishing a protection order, expected to be issued next year.

"The order will effectively protect victims from further attack and give certain punishments to attackers," Li said, for example by placing a restraining order on the offender.

Hebei Provincial People's Congress passed the country's first domestic violence ordinance regulation in July 2004.

"This is the first step towards future nationwide implementation," said Ma Licheng, head of the Legal Division of the Hebei Women's Federation.

Community intervention plays a crucial role in preventing domestic violence and protecting victims from being hurt further, experts said.

The Ministry of the Civil Affairs established an experimental shelter centre in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province on November 16, offering temporary help for run-away female victims.

"It is an answer to the question of where should a woman go after being abused," said Ma Li, director of the shelter.

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