CHINA / Regional
Guangdong gets tough on domestic violenceBy Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-30 07:04
GUANGZHOU: Lawmakers in South China's Guangdong Province are deliberating a draft law on domestic violence and sexual harassment against women in an attempt to better protect their rights.
The draft law, which has been submitted to the 32nd meeting of the 10th session of the Standing Committee of Guangdong Provincial People's Congress for approval, stipulates that domestic violence against women can also include mental torture.
According to Zhang Lijie, a deputy to the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress, about 46 percent of women in the province's families are victims of domestic violence.
"Most of them have suffered from some form of physical abuse. But we have also come to realize that some are seriously affected by mental torture by their husbands," Zhang said.
Xu Yuxiang, a local lawyer, described the draft law as "a big step" toward protection of women's rights.
"If passed, the law will be the first of its kind to term mental abuse as domestic violence against women. This will ensure better protection for women," he said.
Domestic violence was included as an amendment to the national law on the protection of women's rights, which was passed early in 2005.
However, it does not include mental torture, Xu said.
The draft law also calls for the establishment of more temporary shelters for women, defines sexual harassment and the right to sue, outlaws sexually suggestive language or pictures in e-mails or cellphone text messages, and inappropriate physical action toward women, such as body searches at public places.
In addition, it bans employers from discriminating against women in job recruitment, barring them from getting married or getting pregnant.
"The clear definition of domestic violence and sexual harassment in the draft law is a welcome attempt to supplement the national law, helping better enhance the effect of laws and other regulations on protection of women's rights," Xu said.
If passed, it will force work units to set up necessary complaint channels for women.
Shanghai passed a law defining sexual harassment against women early last month. It says physical contact, verbal abuse, written language, pictures, or electronically transmitted information against women could be considered sexual harassment.
Several laws have also been passed in the provinces of Jiangxi, Shaanxi and Anhui, and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, allowing victims to complain or sue offenders.
(China Daily 05/30/2007 page5)