China: Online Video Awakens National Discussion on Domestic Abuse
Saturday, October 31, 2020 5:35 PM

Despite new anti-domestic violence legislation, victims of domestic violence in China still face significant barriers. In June 2020, security footage of a husband beating his wife in her boutique shop in the city of Shangqiu spread throughout a social media platform in China, triggering a national discussion on the prevalence of domestic violence and legal barriers to relief for victims. The survivor, Liu Zengyan, ended up in the hospital with serious injuries; when the court denied her request for divorce and recommended marital mediation, she posted the video in hopes that public pressure would change the judge’s mind.

Ms. Liu’s case is representative of the barriers victims of domestic abuse face in China. Marital rape is still legal, courts encourage mediation over divorce, and beginning next year, couples seeking to divorce will be subject to a “cooling off period” of 30 days. China enacted an anti-domestic violence law in 2016 making restraining orders more available, yet judges still require evidence of physical abuse, discounting emotional or verbal abuse, in order to grant the orders. Moreover, when judges do grant protection orders, they are rarely enforced.

Compiled from: Wee, Sui-Lee, Her Husband Abused Her. But Getting a Divorce Was an Ordeal, The New York Times (September 16, 2020).