New guidelines released on domestic violence

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On March 4th China’s top judicial authorities, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice, jointly released the Guidelines on Criminal Cases Related to Domestic Violence (关于依法办理家庭暴力刑事案件的意见). The Guidelines clarify that cases where domestic violence victims use illegal methods to get away from their assaulter should be handled carefully, and take into consideration that there might be self-defense and other circumstances that could lead to a mitigated sentence or exemption from punishment.

China still lacks a special law on domestic violence, even though local regulations on fighting domestic violence have been adopted by 28 provincial governments. Some national laws, including the Marriage Law and Law on Protecting Women’s Rights, also include articles on fighting domestic violence. Fu Ying, spokeswoman of the third session of the 12th National People’s Congress, said on Wednesday that China’s first draft law against domestic violence is expected to be submitted to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, for review in August this year. The discussion about drawing up a national law started as early as 1999, and 2015 could finally be the year to end that discussion.

Non-government organizations and women’s rights campaigners have called for the legislation for more than 20 years. Lv Xiaoquan, deputy director of Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Consulting Services Center, spoke yesterday at the “2015 Liang Hui Anti-domestic Violence Legal Experts Dinner Party” (2015年两会反家暴立法专家晚餐会) hosted by the Anti-Domestic Violence Advocacy Group (反家暴立法民间倡导小组), saying that the law against domestic violence shouldn’t be confined to the family domain. Well-known women’s rights activist Lv Pin also pointed out that difficulties to obtain evidence in domestic violence cases shouldn’t be used an excuse to delay the drafting of the domestic violence law.