China / Society

Domestic violence 'a social problem', not a private one

By Wang Qian (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-26 07:36

Nearly 40 percent of Chinese women who are married or involved in a relationship experience physical or sexual violence, a report has found.

The All-China Women's Federation report, released on Monday, said that domestic violence in China remains a severe problem.

"Domestic violence is illegal and affects family members physically and psychologically. It is not a private issue but a social problem," said Tan Lin, head of the federation.

Tan said the main victims of domestic violence are women, children and the elderly.

The report said that women who experience domestic violence are more likely to have miscarriages or abortions and to suffer from depression. Many of them consider or attempt suicide.

But the report said that most abused women don't seek help, with just 7 percent of those surveyed who have experienced domestic violence calling the police.

The report said that child abuse is also a problem, with 33.5 percent of the girls surveyed and 52.9 percent of the boys saying they have been physically punished by their parents.

The report, released a day before International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, urges the public to act to end domestic violence.

Chen Mingxia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said domestic violence has been a social problem in China for a long time.

Alain Noudehou, a UN resident coordinator and United Nations Development Program resident representative in China, said domestic violence not only hurts family members, but also has a negative influence on communities and society.

According to the World Health Organization, about 33 percent of women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, and in some countries, the rate is as high as 70 percent.

Noudehou said that such behavior can be prevented through various efforts, including setting up legal protection systems.

So far, about 125 countries have enacted laws to prevent all forms of domestic violence.

Tan said that after years of campaigning, China's anti-domestic violence law is on the legislative agenda of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

China's top court published in a guideline in 2008 that perpetrators of physical violence will be ordered out of their homes when courts find that the safety of victims cannot be guaranteed, even if the home is communal property.

Jiang Yue'e, head of the women's federation's Department for Women's Rights and Interests, suggested that besides legislation, there is an urgent need for a joint approach to prevent and respond to domestic violence. This should involve health, public security and justice departments at all levels, Jiang said.

The UN observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov 25 to raise awareness and trigger action to end violence against women and girls.

(China Daily 11/26/2014 page3)

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