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Wife beating culture to be scraped in China
( 2003-08-22 17:33) (Agencies)

Wife beating, regarded in traditional Chinese values as the private affair of a family that should not be intervened in, is becoming increasingly a target of social protest and government regulations.

Rong Weiyi, a professor at the Beijing-based Chinese People's Public Security University, said domestic violence, of which wives are the most common victims, is drawing wider attention of society in China.

Women activists believe it is imperative to set up an anti- family violence network led by governments, with the participation of women's federations, law enforcement organs and communities.

According to a survey conducted by the China Law Institute in Gansu, Hunan and Zhejiang provinces, one third of surveyed families have witnessed family violence, in 85 percent of which women were victims.

The survey showed that domestic violence, both physical and mental, can occur in families of any social class.

In traditional Chinese values, men played the dominant role both in the family and society, while women were expected to be subordinate to them, Rong said.

"Social acquiescence and tolerance of domestic violence is partly a result of such mentality," he said.

However, the Chinese Government has made it clear in its plan for women's development for 2001-2010 that violence targeted at women in any form must be prohibited.

The country's first city-level regulation on the prevention of domestic violence was promulgated in Changsha, provincial capital of Hunan in central China in January 1996. In 2000, a provincial law was passed in Hunan, followed by similar laws and regulations in Sichuan, Jiangxi, Heilongjiang and Hubei provinces and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

By May this year, some 11,000 officials with women's federations in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities were appointed by local courts as special jurors for family violence cases. Legal assistance and service organizations sponsored jointly by women's federations and judicial departments were established in 16 provinces. And shelters for victims were set up in 13 provinces.

Non-governmental organizations also play an important role in the prevention of domestic violence, Rong said.

A community intervention program was established in the Hebei district of north China's municipality of Tianjin three years ago by the Beijing-based Hongfeng (Red Maple) Women's Psychology Consulting Service with the cooperation of the local women's federation.

At the end of 1999, the "Anti-Family Violence" program, the first non-governmental organization of its kind, was initiated by the China Law Institute.

The program put forward that living without violence is a right every woman should enjoy and proposed that a national law should be made to better protect women.

Chen Mingxia, a coordinator of the program, said that the proposal on anti-family violence legislation was submitted in March this year to the National People's Congress.

"Though we still have a long way to go, we are at least on the way," Chen said.

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