Starvation, insults now considered domestic violence  

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China’s Supreme People’s Court recently released a set of new provisions, further clarifying what counts as domestic violence and expanding the scope of application of a personal safety protection order (habeas corpus).

The “Provisions on Issues Concerning the Application of Law in Handling Cases of Personal Safety Protection Order”, released during the supreme court’s press conference on July 15, will come into effect on Aug 1.

The new legislation aims to remove various obstacles to the acceptance and processing of domestic violence cases, highlight the timeliness of the protection of rights and interests of victims of domestic violence, clarify the rules of adjudication, and maximize the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of domestic violence victims, according to the court.

China enacted and implemented its first Anti-Domestic Violence Law in 2016. The legislation stipulates that the people’s court shall accept the application for a personal safety protection order from the people’s court filed by a person who has suffered domestic violence or faces the real danger of domestic violence. In the six years since the Anti-Domestic Violence Law was implemented, as of Dec 31, 2021, courts across the country have issued a total of 10,917 such protection orders.

The new provisions emphasize that the application to the court for personal safety protection is not conditional on a civil lawsuit such as divorce. The application, examination, and execution of personal safety protection orders are highly independent of other litigation, which is in line with the fundamental features and purpose of personal safety protection to stop domestic violence promptly.

Based on the Anti-Domestic Violence Law, the provisions also expand the enumeration of the types of domestic violence, clearly stating that freezing and starving, frequent insults, slander, threats, stalking, and harassment are all forms of domestic violence.

In practice, most applications are rejected due to “insufficient evidence”, which limits the role of the orders. Accordingly, the provisions list 11 forms of evidence, such as statements made by concerned individuals, police records, audio or visual materials recording the occurrence or resolution of domestic violence and identification of injuries, to guide trial practice and to provide clear behavioral guidance for victims of domestic violence to retain and collect evidence.