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Women looks for ways to defeat domestic violence
( 2003-11-26 09:05) (People's Daily)

Ding Xiaolan and Wang Xin, two common housewives from different coastal Chinese provinces, both killed their husbands on Nov. 6 after suffering 10 years of beatings and abuse and being unable to endure any more.

The popular TV play "Don't talk to strangers," depicting domestic violence. [File Photo]
Theirs are not isolated cases of victims of domestic violence resorting to extreme means to stop the abuse. In a provincial female prison, over 100 of the 1,000 prisoners were found guilty of killing their husbands, and many said they were driven to it by abuse.

Domestic experts, knowing the elimination of domestic violence is a long way off, began meditating on women's different choices when encountering beatings or abuse.

According to a survey on how Chinese rural females deal with wife beating, 50 percent go to relatives or village leaders for mediation, 33 percent take revenge with violence, and only seven percent go to law enforcement departments for assistance.

Experts point out that many Chinese, considering domestic violence a "private" matter, prefer mediation as a mild way to settle family conflicts.

But Chen Min, a lawyer with the Beijing Jinde Law Office, said the facts proved the opposite was true, as females might expect more severe violence after mediation.

"Mediation usually aims to cool conflicts, reach agreements and maintain marriages, but it never insists on punishment of abusers or encourages victims to divorce, which traps more women into the nightmare of domestic violence," Chen said.

Though legal assistance is believed more powerful than mediation, it still faces frustrations in practice.

Jurists with the Law School of Beijing University say the new Marriage Law, which clearly prohibits domestic violence, doesn't specify related judicial procedures, which leaves too large room for free judgment.

"Sometimes, family violence does cause injuries, but the severity hasn't come to the standards for conviction according to China's Criminal Law," jurists say.

The experts also consider the judicial authorities fail to offer effective measures to compel temporary separation between violence victims and abusers, which discourages many women caught in continuous abuse.

They also blame some local police stations for treating the issue as a "trivial household matter", accusing them shuffling it through with words of persuasion without verifying wives' injuries or punishment on the guilty husbands.

Divorce can not always help the abused women out, and has become another factor driving them to violent resolutions.

In the above two cases, Ding and Wang both tried to divorce, but incurred more atrocious beatings and husbands' threats of killing all their families. They were forced to bear the abuse again and again.

A survey among divorced women in Ma'anshan City, east China's Anhui Province shows that 20 percent still suffer beating by their ex-husbands.

"Domestic violence is not a private matter, but a public menace," said Chen Mingxia, a professor with the law institute of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

According to the latest official survey, 16 percent of Chinese women complain they are beaten by their spouses, and 14.4 percent of males admit they beat up their wives. Nearly one third of related government officials regard domestic violence as the primary factor threatening women's rights and interests.

Currently, women's federations at various levels have opened 6,181 hotlines and 8,958 special organizations in China to provide consultation and legal aid for women's rights protection. The China Law Society has established a nationwide network for fighting domestic violence, and many provincial authorities have enacted local regulations for preventing domestic violence.

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