China: Woman's Death Prompts Domestic Violence Bill
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 3:25 PM

An anti-domestic violence law is on the legislative agenda for China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee. The proposed law comes after years of effort by women’s groups and the tragic death of a young Chinese bride. Dong Shanshan’s death was widely publicized by the media in 2010 and has acted as a catalyst for reform of China’s currently vague domestic violence laws. Dong was repeatedly beaten by her husband, and kidnapped by him when she ran away. Dong contacted the police eight times during her ten-month marriage, but the police refused to “intervene in the affairs of a married couple.” Dong eventually died at the hands of her husband.


The proposed law will more clearly define domestic violence and specify punishments for perpetrators.  A 2007 survey by the All China Women’s Federation found that a third of Chinese families experience domestic violence, but many women do not report violence to the police. When victims bring lawsuits against their abuser, courts are unlikely to provide relief. Lv Xiaoquan, who works for the Center for Women's Law Studies and Legal Services of Peking University and has represented domestic violence victims, said that courts require victims to prove abuse through police and medical records, but police rarely document violence or injuries in reports on “family conflicts.” A 2010 study by the Shenzhen Intermediate Court revealed that three-fourths of domestic violence lawsuits fail and those that are successful rarely result in compensation for victims.


Compiled from: You, Jia, Bride’s Death in China Spurs Anti-Violence Bill, Women’s E-News, (3 Aug. 2011).