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Court doubles down against domestic abuse

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-29 11:38


Judicial protections remain robust for victims of physical, mental assault

China's top court has reiterated its pledge to resolutely crack down on domestic violence, whether it is physical or mental, and to protect its victims.

The Supreme People's Court released the statement on Nov 25 to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

While many think of only physical harm when it comes to acts of domestic violence, the court reminded that nonphysical acts such as threats, intimidation and verbal abuse also constitute the same offense.

In addition, children who are witnesses to domestic violence can also be identified as victims, the court said.

It underscored that the issuance of the statement was to enhance public legal awareness, strengthen self-protection and show that Chinese courts will have zero-tolerance for acts of domestic violence.

In one case referenced in the statement, a man surnamed Li repeatedly threatened his wife that he would take his own life — though not violent, it was an act of emotional blackmail against her. The threats left her in a state of constant fear, so she sought out a judge to provide a personal safety protection order, which is similar to a restraining order issued in the West.

In another case, a court granted parental custody to a woman surnamed Tang after she divorced her husband in March last year. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the ex-husband, surnamed Cai, absconded with the four-year-old.

In April this year, the court forcibly ordered the child's return to Tang, but just a month later Cai attempted to abduct the child, resulting in a physical altercation. During the fight, the child was injured and left traumatized.

Subsequently, the child experienced mental health problems and was afraid of going to school.

To prevent such acts, the court forbade Cai from places where the child and Tang reside or frequent. The court also ordered long-term psychological counseling for the child.

Li Ying, who has helped launch a family and community development and service center in Beijing's Dongcheng district, said that children's mental health can be affected greatly by witnessing domestic abuse.

She said that perpetrators in about 70 percent of cases she has dealt with have suffered from domestic violence or witnessed it in their families.

"It's important for us to help more people realize that those who are witnesses to domestic violence are also victims," she said.

In the statement, the top court lauded the mandatory system reporting system that requires individuals and departments to report anyone suspected of doing harm to children to public security organs, revealing that it has played an important role in preventing minors from domestic violence.

In recent years, China has stepped up efforts fighting domestic violence through legislation and the judicial system. The Law on the Protection of Women's Rights has been updated and the burden of proof required for a personal safety protection order has been reduced.

Data released in August showed that more than such 1,500 orders have been issued by Chinese courts since 2016.

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