The following content was originally published on the Beijing Qianqian law firm’s WeChat account on March 1, 2018. You can find the original here. What follows is CDB’s translation.
On March 1st 2016, the “Anti-Domestic Violence Law of the People’s Republic of China” was officially implemented. The law has been in effect for two years, and a comprehensive evaluation reveals that there have been many gains, but also some deficiencies, and there is a need for further improvements. In the following article, the Qianqian Law Firm in Beijing has collected, arranged and summarized a chronology of the major events in the fight against domestic violence in China. In view of the limited resources available, this list is not exhaustive and may include some inaccuracies. We welcome all those concerned with the issue of domestic violence in China to provide any further information or suggestions to help us improve our chronicle of events. Please contact us by phone: 010-84833270 or email: email@example.com.
We must all work together to put an end to domestic violence.
Below is a chronicle of important milestones in the fight against domestic violence in China:
At meetings like the 1990 Sino-American Symposium on Women and the 1993-1994 World Conference on Women regional forum, domestic violence officially became an academic topic in China.
In July 1991, the Women of China magazine published the article “White Paper on Domestic Violence” by the Beijing lawyer Pi Xiaoming. The article was the first to publicly suggest that domestic violence is a social problem in China.
In 1992, the Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center Beijing opened the first national women’s hotline, which was also the first national hotline for mental health.
In 1994, using the UN International Year of the Family as an opportunity, the Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center Beijing assembled and published an investigation into 30 cases of domestic violence in Beijing and its surrounding areas. This was the first major case study on domestic violence gathered by an NGO. In 2004, this same organization opened a domestic violence hotline.
In October 1994, the China Association of Social Workers Family Research Center opened the first national domestic violence complaint hotline, providing services to victims of domestic violence.
On August 7, 1995, the State Council released the “Outline of Women’s Development in China” (1995-2000). This was the Chinese government’s first specialized plan regarding women’s development and it contained the first explicit use of the term “domestic violence”.
From September 4-15, 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing. In order to accelerate the implementation of the “Nairobi Strategy”, the “Beijing Declaration” and “Beijing Platform for Action” were drafted, explicitly linking violence against women with basic human rights and freedoms, calling “violence against women the violation, damage and deprivation of the basic human rights and freedoms of women.” The Chinese government pledged to end domestic violence and protect the rights of vulnerable groups such as women, children and the elderly. The issue of domestic violence began to attract broader attention across Chinese society.
In September 1995, a woman entrepreneur in Hubei province opened the first women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence in Mainland China. It closed one year later due to harassment by perpetrators and public pressure.
In December 1995, the first public welfare institution specializing in women’s legal aid, research and advocacy in China was established, the Beijing University Women’s Legal Aid Center. The center has continuously made domestic violence a focal issue of its research and advocacy work, which includes providing free legal consultations, handling individual cases, awareness and skills training, sending lawyers to marginalized communities, implementing test projects and promoting legislation.
In January 1996, the Office of the Municipal Government of Changsha in Hunan province and the Office of the People’s Government in Changsha issued “Regulations on the Prevention and Suppression of Domestic Violence” which marked the first local implementation of policy against domestic violence and introduced the phrase “domestic violence” into official government documents.
In June 1998, the Beijing University Women’s Legal Aid Center held a seminar on domestic violence, the first of its kind in China. During the seminar, the center presented a report on 30 unresolved legal cases related to domestic violence, and proposed establishing an organization to promote legislation against domestic violence.
In 1999, the Changsha Public Security Bureau released comments on the implementation of the “Regulations on the Prevention and Suppression of Domestic Violence”, the first document related to the management of domestic violence issued by a public security office. Since then, all public security offices, from provincial and municipal public security bureaus to community police stations, have released documents detailing actions related to the enforcement of laws on dealing with domestic violence, including reporting, evidence collection and police management. The public security offices have established domestic violence complaint stations, 110 reporting points, domestic violence appraisal centers and developed intervention training for the police.
In April 1999, the Family Violence Prevention Fund in San Francisco designed a program to promote the San Francisco medical system model for domestic violence intervention in four countries, funded by the Ford Foundation and the US Global Women’s Fund. After review, it was determined the program would take place in Beijing and be operated by the Department of Social Work at China Women’s University, and it would be incorporated into the China Law Society’s “Domestic Violence Research and Intervention Program”. It became one of 15 programs, and Tie Ying Hospital in Fengtai District became the pilot hospital for the medical system model of domestic violence intervention. The project was the first to launch a national probe into the establishment of domestic violence intervention mechanisms in medical institutions.
In November 1999, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution to make November 25 “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women”. The resolution called upon governments, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to implement the “Beijing Declaration” and the “Beijing Platform for Action”, and raise public awareness on the issue of violence against women.
On December 28, 1999, Beijing University’s Women’s Legal Aid Center, China Women’s University’s Department of Social Work Women’s Counseling and Development Center, Maple Women’s Psychological Counselling Center Beijing and the Shaanxi Women’s Research Institute jointly established the “Working group against domestic violence” seminar in Beijing. Participants suggested that the role of the judiciary and social organizations in the fight against domestic violence be changed, and that there be a more comprehensive use of the multiple functions of the judiciary and social groups in controlling domestic violence, including making full use of their role in deterrence and education. To strengthen the cooperation between different mechanisms and organizations in the fight against domestic violence, they suggested creating a coalition of medical centers, shelters, lawyers, police, courts, women’s groups and mental health organizations to form a “Network Against Domestic Violence”. At the same time the media should guide public opinion through reports of well-handled domestic abuse cases and always uphold the rights of the victims.
On March 31, 2000, the Standing Committee of Hunan province placed the “Resolution on the Prevention and Suppression of Domestic Violence” under review. This was the first proposed local law against domestic violence in China, and marked the first appearance of the term “domestic violence” within the Chinese legal system.
In April 2000, the Women’s Federation of Xi’an and the Xi’an Women’s Marriage and Family Research Institute implemented special training in domestic violence intervention for the Yanta district police force, setting a precedent for the creation of a Women’s Federation and NGO skills training program in domestic violence intervention for public security departments.
In June 2000, the China Law Society Domestic Violence Network and Research Center was created. The network brought together academics from a range of disciplines including law, sociology, women’s studies, social work, medicine, journalism and psychology, as well as women workers and activists in the public and private sectors, law enforcement and legislation. The mission of the network was to focus on the issue of domestic violence from the perspective of gender and human rights, and gather members from across various regions to carry out a joint campaign against domestic violence. As part of the “Domestic Violence Research and Intervention Program”, the network established 15 new programs including: the Domestic Violence Information Center; a domestic violence website; a gender awareness training program; investigative research into actions against domestic violence, legal intervention and case studies from the counselling hotline; media and public awareness campaigns; an oral history of women victims; a series of training materials; a legal fund for women; and seminars in domestic violence intervention for urban communities, rural communities and medical institutions from both the national and international perspectives. The network began to build a unique model to battle domestic violence that could be promoted nationwide using institutional intervention research, legislative proposals and gender-based awareness training and enlisting institutional cooperation, community intervention, the support of women victims, social assistance, the participation of men and medical and judicial reform. At the same time, the “Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence (draft)”, “Judicial Interpretations of Protection against Bodily Harm”, “Regulations on Police Domestic Violence Intervention” and other legislation was proposed. These policy suggestions were unique and highly effective contributions to the fight against domestic violence.
On November 2, 2000, China Women’s News published the article “The Struggle Against Despair: the theory and practice of battered women’s syndrome”, which introduced the concept of battered women’s syndrome to the public. In legal terms, this concept refers to a pattern of behavior enacted by women who have endured long-term abuse from husbands or boyfriends, including concepts such as “cycles of violence” and “learned helplessness”.
The famous play that speaks out against domestic violence, “The Vagina Monologues”, was performed in English in 2001 in Nanjing and 2002 in Shanghai, and in Chinese at Zhongshan University from 2003 to 2009. Performances were also staged in Fudan, Beijing University, Huazhong Normal University and Xiamen University by university students, in Nanning high school students and by a special acting troupe. “The Vagina Monologues” provides a deep analysis of domestic violence and violence against women and disseminates this message widely through artistic means. The rehearsal, performance, viewing and discussion of the play works to raise awareness, mobilize action and eliminate violence and provides a positive influence for young people.
On February 22, 2001, a White Ribbon media campaign was held in Beijing with the slogan “The fight against domestic violence is the responsibility of all society.”
On April 28, 2001, an amendment to the Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China was passed, explicitly prohibiting domestic violence, with regulations regarding assistance for victims and the legal liability of perpetrators. This marks the first time domestic violence was addressed through national legislation.
In May 2001, Furong district in Changsha, Hunan province pioneered the creation of a “Zero-tolerance community”, with the stated purpose of “an intervention rate of 100% and zero blindness towards domestic violence.” They created a “Network in Defense of the Seven Rights”, established specific indicators for assessment mechanisms and targets, and explored the establishment of socialized and systematized mechanisms of prevention.
In October 2001, “Don’t Talk to Strangers” was aired, the first television series to address the subject of domestic violence.
On December 10, 2001, in honor of International Human Rights Day and “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” (November 25 to December 10), the United Nations Rule of Law Group joined with the Women’s Media Monitoring Network to hold “White Ribbon Campaign” activities in Beijing. The participants included international organizations, governmental departments, NGO representatives, Chinese and foreign media and students. According to questionnaire results, many participants reported hearing about the “White Ribbon Campaign” for the first time, and 80% said that they had been deeply affected by what they had learned about domestic violence.
On December 25, 2001, the Supreme People’s Court published “The Supreme People’s Court’s Interpretations of the Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China (i)”, which defined domestic violence as: behavior which causes harm such as beatings, binding, injury or forcible restriction of personal freedom through other means perpetrated against the body or mind of family members.
In June 2002, the Procuratorate of Anshan City, Liaoning province, established the first women’s public prosecution group in China, focusing on handling such cases as those in which women and children were victims, or those where women were the suspected criminals. Since then, procuratorates in other regions such as Beijing, Hebei, Henan and Shaanxi have also set up similar mechanisms.
On October 14, 2002, lawyers attending a training session for core lawyers of the Hebei Women’s Legal Service (Aid) Organization took the lead in launching the “White Silk” campaign, a written petition which emphasized: “in acting as lawyers, especially as male lawyers, we are responsible for urging men to stand up and oppose domestic violence against women”, and proposed a promise to all the lawyers in the province and to every man: 1. “At whatever time, in whatever circumstances, never to carry out domestic violence”, 2. “To actively participate in guarding against and putting a stop to actions of domestic violence”, 3. “To extend a helping hand to women who are sufferers of domestic violence”. In the same year, the first domestic “Group of Male Volunteers Opposing Violence Against Women and Promoting Gender Equality in Society” was set up in the capital; afterwards, in Leqing City in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, the “Men Against Domestic Violence Volunteer Group”, the “Men in Changsha City Active Against Domestic Violence Group”, and the “Beijing Therapists against Domestic Violence Participation Group” were all set up in quick succession. The young people attending the annual opening ceremony of the 16-day Elimination of Domestic Violence Against Women program were also getting more numerous and more varied by the year, including both men and women from all social backgrounds.
In March 2003, the website China Law Society for Opposing Domestic Violence submitted its first “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act” (Proposal Draft). In 2006 the website re-established a group of experts to revise it, and it underwent three rounds of specialised investigation and research, six rounds of specialist discussion and seven draft papers, until the 2003 proposal progressed to a completely revised stage. In March 2010 it was presented again to the National People’s Congress.
In 2003 the Comprehensive Management Committee of Hunan province took the national lead and entered the task of prevention and curbing of domestic violence into the content for evaluation by the Provincial Committee for Comprehensive Management of Public Security. This constituted one point within the “mass evaluation”.
On June 12, 2003, the Xuzhou City Civil Administration Bureau and the city’s Women’s Federation set up the Xuzhou Domestic Violence Asylum Centre, demonstrating how Civil Affairs’ departments can be a channel for social welfare.
In December 2003, the People’s Court of Yuhua District of Shijiazhuang City in Hebei province set up the first “Tribunal Against Domestic Violence” in the country.
At the end of 2003, the Prosecutor’s Office in Beijing’s Haidian district launched the “Prevention and Control of Domestic Violence” program. This was the first time one of China’s basic-level procuratorates launched a program relating to the opposition of domestic violence.
On July 22, 2004, the Standing Committee of the Hebei Provincial People’s Congress issued the “Hebei Regulation on the Prevention and Curbing of Domestic Violence”. This was the first local legislation specifically on domestic violence brought out in the form of a regulation.
According to an authoritative investigation by a relevant department, it was found that domestic violence occurred at a rate of between 29.7% and 35.7% in China (not including hidden figures from the investigation). More than 90% of the victims were women. Out of China’s 270 million households, in around 30% of them (nearly 81 million households) domestic violence could be found in various degrees. Nine-tenths of the perpetrators were men. Every year there were 100,000 households that disintegrated because of domestic violence.
In 2005, “The Task of Preventing and Stopping Domestic Violence” was defined as an important means of evaluation for “Safe Changsha” and the establishment of a “national civilized city”.
On February 28, 2005, China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast “News Investigation – an Investigation of Women’s Prison Wards”. CCTV’s “News Investigation” program team went into a female prison in Shijiazhuang, and made close contact with a group of female offenders who had received heavy sentences for murdering their husbands after suffering from domestic violence. This caused a sensation in society, and triggered many people from all backgrounds to engage in a wide-ranging debate and profound reflection on cases of violent reaction against abuse, and whether they should receive lighter sentences or be decriminalized. It also became a classic audio-visual material for various kinds of anti-domestic violence training sessions.
On August 28, 2005, the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women (Revised Draft) provided that “it is forbidden to carry out domestic violence against women” and “the state shall take up measures to prevent and put a stop to domestic violence”, and set out the responsibilities for every mechanism of prevention of domestic violence. On top of this, every province (and district and city accordingly) amended their Measures to Implement the “Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women”, all issuing special guidelines for the prevention and curbing of domestic violence.
On December 29, 2006, the National People’s Congress amended the Law on the Protection of Minors, and made definite a provision that stated the following: “it is prohibited to carry out domestic violence against a minor”.
Devoting all their efforts to diversifying gender equality, from 2007 to 2009 the non-profit association “Common Language” developed the “Investigation into the Circumstances of Domestic Violence against Lesbians (and bisexuals) and the Manual against Violence” program in the eight cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Anshan, Chengdu, Kunming, Nanning, Zhuhai and Guangzhou. The statistics gathered from 428 on-site questionnaires and 472 online questionnaires showed that lesbians (and bisexuals) suffered domestic violence on average at a rate of 38.47%, far higher than the rate of 24.7% published by the third national investigation into the position of women in society. Of these, 48.2% suffered from violence coming from parents and relatives, 42.2% suffered from their same-sex partner, and 25% suffered violence coming from their former or current partner of the opposite sex; the kinds of violence suffered were physical attacks, sustained abuse, psychological abuse (including being declared mentally ill or forced to take treatment), stalking and sexual assaults. “Openly intimidating tendencies” were a particular characteristic of homosexual partners’ domestic violence.
On February 13, 2007, the final ruling in the case of Mrs Liu from Changsha city, Hunan province, who used violence to stop domestic violence and killed her husband, was overruled by the Hunan Higher People’s Court. Her fixed term of three years was suspended for four years, and later the case was selected for final judgement by the Supreme People’s Court in the second “Selection of cases for the People’s Court” (Criminal Affairs Collection), and was selected by the Hunan Higher People’s Court for the “Selection of Cases for Hunan Court” (Second Collection). It was of great significance for a court at the lowest level to try a case brought about by domestic violence.
In 2008, many non-governmental agencies and organisations jointly launched a “16 days” action opposing domestic violence against women. First of all they trained, coordinated, and created publicity materials together. Then from November 25 to December 10, during the “16 days” activity, a diverse range of anti-domestic violence publicity and education activities were carried out across the country. In 2009, there was an even wider participation in the “16 days” activity. The prominent achievements of this joint activity pushed various organisations and universities to take part. Especially the active participation of young people made the event much more rich and colourful; at the same time, by connecting with the issues of domestic violence and extensive sexual discrimination, including violence against women, and even cultural oppression and inequality, it demonstrated the potential to further intensify publicity and educational activities.
In March 2008, the Supreme People’s Court Institute of Applied Chinese Law published the “Guidebook for Hearing Marriage Cases involving Domestic Violence”. This was the first consultative guidance document for judicial trials in the country involving domestic violence cases.
In May 2008, The Supreme People’s Court Institute of Applied Chinese Law appointed nine volunteer grassroots People’s Courts to carry out the “Guidebook for Hearing Marriage Cases Involving Domestic Violence” pilot scheme, issuing Personal Safety Protective Orders in light of domestic violence. These nine pilot courts included the People’s Courts of Chong’an district of Wuxi city, Jiangsu province; Yuelu district of Changsha city, Hunan province; Yuzhong district of Chongqing municipality; Nanshan district of Baoding city, Hebei province; Longwan district of Wenzhou city, Jiangsu province; Chengxiang district of Putian city, Fujian province; Chongwen district of Beijing; Haidian district of Beijing; and Dongcheng district of Beijing.
In July 2008, the seven ministries and commissions of the National Women’s Federation, the Central Propaganda Department, the Supreme People’s Court, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Health jointly published “Several Opinions on Preventing and Curbing Domestic Violence”. This was China’s first specialist regulatory document on domestic violence. It set out more precise guidelines for the definition of domestic violence, and for the responsibilities of the public security departments, people’s procuratorate, judicial and administrative departments, health departments, civil affairs departments, propaganda departments and women’s federations in their work against domestic violence.
From the beginning of 2008, the National Women’s Federation raised the “Proposal to Include Anti-Domestic Violence Law in the Plan for Legislation by the National People’s Congress” six times, both through the Delegates’ Committee and independently, in the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
On August 6, 2008, the People’s Court in Chong’an district of Wuxi City, Jiangsu province, took the brave step of issuing China’s first Personal Safety Protective Order in the field of domestic violence。
By 2008, in the whole country there were 29 provinces (and districts and cities) which had drawn up local anti-domestic violence legislation and policies.
In dealing with the connected issues of intimacy and violence, the Changchun City Regulations for the Prevention and Curbing of Domestic Violence and the Zhejiang Province Regulations for the Prevention and Curbing of Domestic Violence (2011) both treated violence within homosexual cohabiting couples as a form of domestic violence, and included it in a category requiring intervention, providing that “these regulations include ‘household members’, referring to partners, parents, sons and daughters and other people cohabiting who make up the household”.
On April 15, 2009, the Hunan Province Higher People’s Court officially published the Guiding Opinion on Strengthening Judicial Protection of Female Victims of Domestic Violence (Pilot). This was the first systematic document on the hearing of domestic violence cases formulated by a provincial-level court in China. It contained provisions on “rules for evidence”, “personal safety protective orders”, and “lenient sentencing and reduced punishment for cases where violence was used as a reaction to violence”, and it was a significant breakthrough in building a system of judicial protection against domestic violence.
On May 12, 2009, the People’s Court in Xiangzhou district of Zhuhai city, Guangdong province, granted a personal safety protective order. It was the first time a provision was made stating that as long as the ruling was effective, no party could dispose of a married couple’s property (if it is of a relatively high value) without permission. This was the first personal safety protective order involving protection of property in China.
By September 2009, the Civil Affairs department had set up domestic violence asylum centres in the aid-management stations of about 60 cities nationally, throughout nearly 20 provinces (and autonomous regions and municipalities), while asylum shelters promoted and set up by NGOs were also being developed.
On October 19, 2009, young Beijing woman Mrs. Dong was brutally beaten with fatal consequences by her husband, Mr. Wang, after only 308 days of marriage. The first instance and second instance courts both sentenced the defendant Mr. Wang to a term of six years and six months of imprisonment on a charge of abuse. The Peking University Law School Research and Services for Women’s Law Centre covered the lawyers’ fees, and the case attracted much attention from experts, media and the public. The case had a continuing and profound effect on society. On the one hand it pushed scholars, legal professionals, civic groups, public opinion and related government departments to focus and reflect deeply on all aspects of domestic violence, and on the other hand it later turned into a model case which was re-evaluated and discussed in anti-domestic violence training and discussion forums convened at all levels. Mrs. Dong’s short life was thus turned into a moving and tragic composition on the fight against domestic violence.
On April 10, 2010, the Chongqing Youyang County People’s court issued the country’s first Personal Safety Protection Order against domestic violence following a divorce.
On May 27, 2010, the political and legal affairs committee of the Changsha municipal party committee, Hunan Province, published the paper “Views on furthering the judicial enforcement on the prevention and suppression of domestic violence”, strengthening the cooperation between the legal and political departments, clarifying the practice of “Personal Protection civil adjudication” in the court system and refining the requirements of the public security organs in implementing assistance. This was the first document in the country created by a municipal-level political and legal committee that regulates judicial law enforcement against domestic violence, and the first structure to prevent and suppress domestic violence to be established in the country through the cooperation of different agencies.
On June 1, 2010, the Changsha Yuelu People’s court in Hunan province issued the country’s first case ruling for the protection of male victims.
On August 16, 2010, the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan province issued the first ruling on a case of Personal Safety Protection by an Intermediate People’s Court.
On November 3, 2010, in Anyue county, Sichuan, a woman, Ms. Li, violently killed her husband as a reaction against domestic violence. In the first and second court trials, with complete disregard for the circumstances of domestic violence, the accused woman was sentenced to death for intentional homicide, with the sentence to be carried out (1). The case immediately aroused the strong attention of the domestic and international media and the strong response of the public, with everyone appealing to the Supreme People’s Court to spare the woman. Thanks to the active work of aid lawyers and a public appeal from all the sectors of society concerned with women’s rights and domestic violence, the Supreme People’s Court carefully reviewed the factual evidence of the case and ruled that the death penalty should not be approved. On April 24, 2015, the High People’s Court of Sichuan province brought the case to a retrial, during which the court ruled that “due to the evidence proving that in the course of the marriage the victim repeatedly beat and scolded Li, there is a certain error in the cause of the case, Li has truthfully stated the facts of the crime, the death penalty cannot be implemented immediately”. Li’s death sentence on the basis of intentional homicide was eventually suspended for two years (2). After receiving the verdict, Li did not appeal, but through her defence counsel submitted her personal amendments to the “Anti-Domestic Violence Act (draft)” to the National People’s Congress Law Council. The case was named one of the top ten news events concerning gender equality in 2015 and was selected as one of 30 candidates for the ten most influential litigation cases in China in 2015.
On November 5, 2010, the Ankang Hanbing District People’s court in Shaanxi province issued the country’s first Personal Protection ruling prohibiting the abuse of the elderly.
On April 14, 2011, the Liuyang People’s Court in Hunan Province issued the country’s first Personal Safety Protection order for the protection of young girls.
On June 17, 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to adopt a human rights resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, the first time in the history of the United Nations that a resolution has been passed concerning the problem of violence and discrimination towards homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people around the world. It also urged the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organise, by the end of 2011, relevant thematic surveys on a global scale to collect records from each country of discriminatory laws and violence in connection with sexual orientation and gender identity, and at the same time examine how to address relevant human rights violations within the legal framework of the United Nations and international conventions. In the past, the Chinese Government had voted against on this sort of issue; now for the first time they abstained from voting, something which could be seen as an improvement in our understanding of the issues surrounding sexuality. This is not unrelated to the unremitting efforts of Chinese civil society organisations, which actively organized activities every year on May 17th, “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia”, December 17th, “International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers“, November 25th, “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” and November 16th against gender-based violence, advocating for the equality of diverse genders and opposing violence against sexual minorities.
In July 2011, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee incorporated the Anti-Domestic Violence Law into the preparatory legislation project, and began to carry out legislative research and proof work.
At the end of August 2011 the American wife of Li Yang, the founder of Crazy English, publicly exposed Li Yang’s domestic violence against her on Weibo, and published several photos as evidence of a heated argument. On February 3, 2013, the “Li Yang domestic violence” divorce case, which lasted for more than a year, was concluded. Beijing Chaoyang District People’s court found that Li Yang’s domestic violence was an established behaviour, and allowed Li Yang and his wife Kim to divorce. Kim was given custody of their three daughters, with Li Yang ordered to pay child support of RMB 100,000 for each daughter every year until the age of 18. Li Yang was also ordered to pay RMB 50,000 in compensation for the psychological damage, and property compensation of RMB 12,000,000. Before the divorce case was pronounced, based on Kim’s application for a Personal Safety Protection ruling, the court prohibited Li Yang from beating or threatening Kim, ruling that if Li Yang came in violation of the above prohibition he would be punished by the court according to the severity of the circumstances, subject to fines, detention, or criminal responsibility. This was the first “Personal Safety Protection order” issued by the Beijing Municipal court system since the implementation of this new “Civil Procedure Law”. Once the ruling was pronounced, receiving widespread approval in society, the “Democratic Legal Times”, sponsored by the Chinese Law Association, called the case “a classic case of divorce involving domestic violence, as a result of the Court’s respect for facts and laws and innovative judgments”. The New Yorker, a magazine renowned for its long and deep reports, also wrote that the case was “a landmark legal case concerning domestic violence in China”, arguing that the court’s ruling had far-reaching implications for China’s anti-domestic violence legislation.
In October 2011 the results of the third phase of the survey on Chinese women’s social standing, jointly organised by the China Women’s Federation and the National Bureau of Statistics, were released: 24.7% of women had suffered from spousal abuse, beatings, restrictions on personal freedom, economic control, forced sexual activity and other forms of domestic violence throughout their marriage; out of those, 5.5% clearly indicated being beaten by a spouse, with percentages in rural and urban areas standing at 7.8% and 3.1% respectively.
On February 22, 2012, the Zhuhai Xiangzhou District People’s court in Guangdong province issued the country’s first anti-domestic violence “restraining order.”
On August 31, 2012, larger revisions were made to the revised “Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China” on the system of litigation preservation: in addition to the original preservation of property, the content was extended to include “preservation of conduct” in order to provide a direct and clear legal basis for the implementation of Personal Safety Protection orders against domestic violence.
In September 2012, the Huangpu District People’s Court in Guangdong Province issued the country’s first cohabiting relationship Personal Safety Protection order.
In 2013, Hunan Province started work on a “multi-agency cooperation to identify and intervene in cases of domestic violence”, and systematically designed and established mechanisms for multi-agency cooperation, risk assessment and joint conferences. For petition cases, a “risk assessment scale of domestic violence cases” was implemented to carry out risk assessment classification for individual cases of domestic violence. For high-risk cases, women’s federations at all levels were called upon to immediately start a multisector cooperative intervention mechanism to convene a joint conference to discuss high-risk case. Members of staff working in the community, public security, prosecution, courts, mediation, legal aid, medical services, civil affairs, education and other areas were called upon to individually report on situations involving victims, risk assessment, handling and intervention and cries for help, to clearly refine and distinguish responsibilities for the intervention towards perpetrators, victims of violence and witnesses, and to inform on the progress of cases through information platforms. For middle and low-risk cases, individual levels would be handled via consultation, psychological counselling and expert mediation, either through self-processing or referral treatment. The pilot for the joint conference system was carried out in the Xiangtan district of Changsha. By 2015, it had spread to 14 cities across the whole province and was incorporated into the provincial Pingan comprehensive family treatment assessment.
On April 9, 2013, the Hunan Provincial Public Security bureau issued the “working regulations for the Hunan Province public security organs to deal with domestic violence cases”, clarifying the working principles, responsibilities and procedures of the public security organs dealing with cases of domestic violence, and emphasizing risk assessment, being victim-oriented and treating mediation as the priority. These were the country’s first standardised documents to be issued by a provincial public security organ concerning the police handling of domestic violence cases.
On July 1, 2013, Suzhou city in Jiangsu Province formally implemented the “Suzhou Domestic Violence Warning Measures”; this was the country’s first standardised document on domestic violence warnings.
In July 2013, on the basis of a number of pilot schemes, the Jiangsu provincial High People’s Court, the provincial Procuratorate, the provincial Public Security Bureau and the provincial Women’s Federation issued the “Jiangsu Province Domestic Violence Warning System implementation measures (trial)”; the “measures” also stipulated that “acts of violence between persons having a cohabiting relationship or having once had a spousal relationship may be dealt with in light of these measures. In October of the same year, the Ningxia Hui People’s Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau, the High People’s Court, the Procuratorate and the Autonomous Region Women’s Federation formulated the “Ningxia Hui People’s Autonomous Region Domestic Violence warning system implementation measures”. Wenzhou city in Zhejiang Province also enacted a warning system.
On November 12, 2013, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court gave the final verdict in the divorce case of CCTV sports channel host Chai and his wife Xiao Jie, declaring that a certain amount of violence and threats of violence had been brought against his wife Xiao Jie in the course of family life. Xiao Jie was given custody of their one-year old son. For more than two years after the verdict came into effect, Chai refused to hand over the child to his ex-wife, Xiao Jie. After media exposure of the case aroused strong public indignation, the Executive Court of Beijing’s Chaoyang District People’s Court also attached great importance to the case. The court tribunal directly intervened, and under the double pressure of law and public opinion, Chai finally handed over the child to his ex-wife Xiao Jie. The success of this case indicates that the implementation of identity relationship cases involving custody rights, visitation rights and other such rights is, although difficult, not an entirely unresolvable situation and depends to a large extent on the degree and means of the implementation of the Court.
In 2013, the 12th National Party Congress Standing Committee formally incorporated the “Law on Domestic Violence” into the five-year legislative plan. Subsequently, the National Women’s Federation drafted a series of legislative proposals.
On February 27, 2014, the Supreme People’s Court held a press conference to announce that in recent years the People’s Court had conducted judicial interventions into relevant situations of domestic violence to protect the rights of women, children and the elderly. The media spokesperson pointed out that, according to the Supreme Court of Statistics, cases of intentional homicide involving domestic violence accounted for nearly 10% of all intentional homicide cases.
On May 5, 2014, the Beijing Haidian District People’s Court issued a survey report on domestic violence. The report shows that since 2011 (up until early May 2014), the number of divorce cases heard by the Haidian District People’s Court involving domestic violence had risen every year, but the proportion of approvals had remained lower than 8%. The low approval rate in cases of domestic violence may be due to the fact that, compared to bodily harm, sexual violence and economic control are more covert means of domestic violence, and since there is no “objective” evidence the court is often unable to accept the testimony.
In June 2014, in Xuzhou city in Jiangsu Province, a case was brought against a man surnamed Shao concerning the rape and indecent assault of his 10-year-old daughter Xiao Ling. In October of that year, Shao was convicted and sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment by the People’s Court. Xiao Ling’s mother Wang had failed in her duty of care for more than 8 years, and for more than half a year after the sexual assault case remained indifferent, displaying substantial abandonment behaviour. Xiao Ling’s paternal grandparents had died many years earlier, her maternal grandmother and other relatives made it clear that they were unwilling to foster her, and so Xiao Ling was temporarily raised by the warm-hearted villager Ms. Zhang. On January 7th, 2015, Xuzhou Tongshan District Civil Affairs Bureau appealed to the Tongshan People’s Court to revoke the guardian status of Xiao Ling’s parents Shao and Wang, and to appoint an alternative guardian. On February 4th, 2015, the Tongshan People’s Court employed the special procedures reserved for civil litigation, the case was brought to trial and a final judgement made in the first hearing: the legal guardianship of Xiao Ling’s parents Shao and Wang was revoked and the Tongshan District Civil Affairs Bureau was designated guardian of Xiao Ling. The case was the first time a Civil Affairs Department had applied for the revocation of guardianship, and also the country’s first case to make use of “Opinions on several issues regarding dealing with guardian violation of minors’ rights and interests according to law”, jointly published by the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and implemented on January 1st, 2015.
On November 5, 2014, the Maanshan Intermediate People’s Court of Anhui Province heard a criminal case of a woman accused of violently killing her husband due to domestic violence. During the trial, the system of expert witnesses appearing in court was tried out; expert on domestic violence issues Chen Min, Director of the Gender and Law Research Center at the Supreme People’s Court of China Institute of Applied Law, attended the trial to elaborate on the characteristics and patterns of domestic violence and the relationship between the violent experiences of the victims and their eventual violent reaction. This case was the first of its kind in the country.
In November 2014, the Xuzhou Jiawang District People’s court in Jiangsu Province set up the national court system’s first anti-domestic violence temporary shelter, to provide emergency shelter for those who have been temporarily unable to file a lawsuit or whose personal safety may be at risk after sentencing.
On November 25th, 2014, the Legal Office of the State Council publicly released the “People’s Republic of China Anti-Domestic Violence Law (draft to solicit opinions)” in order to solicit feedback from the public.
In December 2014, the Beijing institution for the rights and interests of sexual minorities “Tong Yu” published the “Chinese Sexual Minorities Domestic Violence Research Report”. The report surveyed 419 respondents in eight cities in China, and out of the 419 cases surveyed, the proportion of lesbian/bisexual persons who had been subjected to domestic violence was 68.97%, with the highest percentage of violence (49.16%) coming from their own family of origin, followed by 42.64% of the violence occurring between same-sex couples. With regards to the type of violence, psychological abuse was the main form of violence: psychological abuse from the family of origin was experienced by 46.3%, and psychological abuse between same-sex couples stood at 40.63%. At the same time, the survey found that sexual orientation was one of the factors that affected the differences in types of violence compared to other groups.
On March 2, 2015, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate , the Public Security Bureau and the Ministry of Justice jointly issued “Views Regarding Managing Criminal Cases Pertaining to Domestic Violence According to the Law”, the first criminal law guiding document concerning domestic violence to be released in China.
On August 24, 2015, “the People’s Republic of China’s Anti-Domestic Violence Law (Draft)” was put forward by the State Council for preliminary review by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, with public feedback sought the following month.
At the end of 2015, a variety of gender equality non-profit organizations collectively released China’s first national online investigative report on violence between intimate partners. Through interviews with 3334 participants – including 877 non-heterosexual individuals – concerning serious psychological violence, the authors of the report found that compared with the heterosexual community, gay/lesbian or bisexual individuals were more likely to have experienced or inflicted psychological violence in intimate relationships than their heterosexual peers. The proportion of bisexuals who reported experiencing serious psychological violence (25.7%) was higher than that of both gay/lesbians and (21.8%) and heterosexuals (18.2%). This report also recorded a number of cases of domestic violence occurring within same-sex relationships.
On November 27, 2015, on the third day following the implementation of the domestic violence warning system, the city of Changsha issued Hunan Province’s first domestic violence written reprimand. In January 2016, in regard to the same domestic violence case, Changsha’s courts and Public Security Bureau released in succession a protection order and a warning order, which were upheld as “the nation’s first anti-domestic violence case”.
On December 27, 2015, following a second review, the 18th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress passed “The People’s Republic of China Anti-Domestic Violence Law”. In addition to physical violence, the “Anti-Domestic Violence Law” covered both psychological violence and violence at the hands of co-occupants.
On March 1, 2016, “The People’s Republic of China’s Anti-Domestic Violence Law” was formally put into effect, representing an important step forward in the work of combating domestic violence in China. On the same day, the city of Beijing and the provinces of Hunan, Fujian, Zhejiang and Shandong each issued the first personal safety protection orders for their own areas. In close succession, the provinces of Sichuan, Tianjin, Henan, Hainan and Shaanxi and the municipality of Shanghai also signed the first personal safety protection orders for their respective areas.
On the same day that the law took effect, on March 1, the Changsha Women’s Federation in Hunan Province submitted a personal safety protection order to the Yuelu District People’s Court on behalf of a victim of domestic violence, a move which received the support of the court. This was both the first independent personal safety order to be issued in Hunan Province and the first personal safety protection order in China to be applied for by the All-China Women’s Federation.
On April 6, 2016, female journalist Hang Jinqi was beaten to death by her husband Jin Zhuou, in the city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia. Following two trials, the courts found Jin Zhuou guilty of committing malicious injury and sentenced him to death with a two year reprieve. This sentence was compared with a vastly different verdict rendered in a similar case seven years prior in Beijing, in which the defendant Wang Guangyu was sentenced by the court to a fixed sentence of six years and six months for the crime of abusing his wife Dong Shanshan, after he beat her to death.
On May 11, 2016, Yuelu District in Changsha, Hunan Province issued a document entitled “Methods Concerning the Compulsory Reporting and Handling of Instances of Domestic Violence Experienced by Minors in Yuelu District, Changsha”. These “Methods” were China’s first local policies establishing a compulsory reporting system for cases of domestic violence.
In June 2016, the Dongcheng District People’s Court in Beijing signed the nation’s first cross-regional domestic violence personal safety protection order.
On July 13, 2016, “The Supreme People’s Court’s Reply Regarding Procedural Issues Related to Personal Safety Protection Order Cases” was officially put into force. The document made clear that those applying for a personal safety protection order are not required to pay any fees for bringing forth a lawsuit, nor are they required to provide a guarantee. According to the special procedures covering the conduct of these legal hearings, applications for the reconsideration of a lawsuit can be conducted by the original court or by another designated court.
On November 1, 2016, the Third Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing convened a briefing concerning second instance marital and family civil cases tried and closed by Beijing’s intermediate courts between January 2014 and July 2016. Combing through these cases revealed that while 213 of them were brought forward by parties alleging having experienced domestic violence, in only 22 (10.3%) of the cases did the court agree that they constituted instances of domestic violence. In 73 of the cases plaintiffs asked for compensation for harm suffered due to domestic violence, but in only 17 (23%) did the court adjudicate in favour of their demands. Furthermore, total compensation in most of these cases equalled fifty thousand RMB or less. Out of those 76 cases in which a victim of domestic violence was also responsible for the care of a minor, the court adjudicated in their favour in 34 (44.7%) of these cases.
From March 1 to the end of December 2016, Chinese courts issued 680 personal safety protection orders.
On March 1, 2017, “The People’s Republic of China’s Anti-Domestic Violence Law” celebrated its first anniversary. According to incomplete statistics, twenty-four provinces, autonomous regions or directly controlled municipalities across the country had by this point put forward 240 systems and documents supporting the “Anti-Domestic Violence Law”. Covering numerous government departments including Public Security, the courts, the Civil Affairs Department, the Ministry of Education and the All-China Women’s Federation, these supplementary documents and systems aimed to combat domestic violence through work principles, specifying the duties and division of work among departments, and implementing compulsory reporting systems, warning systems and personal safety protection order systems. However, at the grassroots level the overall implementation of the “Anti-Domestic Violence Law” has been mixed: many areas still need to further strengthen and clarify the law, while related supplementary systems are in need of timely improvements.
On July 19, 2017, the Supreme People’s Court, along with 15 government departments, jointly convened a meeting on family matter trials and related work mechanism reforms. At the meeting, the Supreme People’s Court noted that between March 1st 2016 and the end of June 2017, 1284 personal safety protection orders had been issued by courts nationwide.
Up to July 2017, twenty four provinces, autonomous regions and directly controlled municipalities had implemented 247 regulations and policy documents supplementing the “Anti-Domestic Violence Law”.
On October 1st 2017, the newly revised “Changchun Municipal Regulations on the Prevention and Stopping of Domestic Violence” were formally implemented, so that Changchun became the first city in China to legislate improvements to the “Anti-Domestic Violence Law”. These regulations further clarified that the law’s references to “family members as well as other people cohabiting” means that “violent acts committed by guardians, providers, cohabitants or others who live together should be administered according to these regulations.”
On September 12th, 2017, the Shaanxi Province newspaper Chenggu Bulletin published a news report entitled “Daughter-in-law suffers domestic violence at the hands of husband and mother-in-law, dies of injuries at home”. This case was unique not only due to its brutality, but also because the perpetrators were the victim’s husband and her mother-in-law; the victim died not at the hands of a single perpetrator, but due to the collective violence of an entire family.
On November 23rd, 2017, the Beijing LGBT Centre issued their “2017 Investigative Report on the Living Situation of China’s Transgender Community”. Out of the 1640 individuals living with parental guardians who were interviewed, only six had not experienced violence at the hands of members of their family of origin. The probability of trans women suffering violence at the hands of members of their family of origin was even greater, and the proportion of trans women experiencing frequent and extreme forms of violence was greatest.
On November 28th, 2017, Equality, a Beijing-based anti-domestic violence NGO, released their report “How Far We’ve Come in 20 Months: Implementation Monitoring Report on the People’s Republic of China’s Anti-Domestic Violence Law” (covering the period between March 1st, 2016 and October 31, 2017). The implementation monitoring report provided exhaustive statistical analysis of the grassroots implementation of the “Anti-Domestic Violence Law” over the preceding twenty months, covering all aspects related to the prevention of domestic violence. The report concluded that over the previous twenty months, and especially since March 1st, 2017, the promotion of the “Anti-Domestic Violence Law” had gained strength: more and more victims had sought help and bravely spoken out about their experiences; more and more parents and friends had actively supported their relatives in defending their rights; more and more passers-by, neighbours, classmates, coworkers and strangers who had witnessed acts of violence had been willing to call the police, seek help or extend a hand to those in need; more and more organizations had begun implementing anti-domestic violence educational campaigns and provide related services; more and more public rights organizations had issued positive responses to the law. However, significant discrepancies between the law and its implementation remain and continue to negatively influence both the public’s ability to enjoy their legal rights and their expectations of the legal system. This is especially the case with women and children who are victims of domestic violence, including women and children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, are disabled or are sexual minorities. Of particular concern among the statistics listed in the monitoring report is that during the twenty-month period between March 1st, 2016 and October 31st, 2017, there were 533 cases of domestic violence leading to death reported by the Chinese media, with 635 adults and children killed, including neighbours and passersby, for an average of more than one death per day. The majority of those killed were women.
As of March 1st, 2018, the “Anti-Domestic Law” has been in effect for two years.
1) as opposed to a “suspended death sentence”, a common form of sentencing in China
2) after which it can be commuted to life imprisonment