Comment now on China’s draft Anti-Domestic Violence Law

Unknown-2After at least 15 years of pressure by women’s groups, lawyers, and publicity in China, as well as by the international community, the draft Anti-Domestic Violence was issued by China’s State Council Legislative Affairs Office on November 25. It follows many years of academic and professional exchanges and international conferences on domestic violence legislation.  The timing may be to coincide with the UN’s Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

The comment period is one month.  The draft is available here.  An English translation of the draft and official explantion has been prepared by Chinalawtranslate.com (thank you to the team). The translation of the draft is available here and the explanation here. The draft contains important content, including:

  • definition of domestic violence;
  • establish a domestic violence reporting system
  • protection orders;
  • requirements for courts in matters involving domestic violence;
  • local government establishment of domestic violence shelters.
  • Unmarried couples are not covered by the draft law (but by other legislation).  (Drafts of local legislation have also started with this position.  In Shenzhen, the Procuratorate advised against this, as mentioned in this earlier blogpost).

Comments may be made electronically at: fjtbl@chinalaw.gov. cn; or by mail at: Box 2067, Beijing, PRC 100035, attention Anti-Domestic Violence Law Consultation; (北京市2067信箱(邮政编码:100035),请在信封上注明“反家庭暴力法征求意见).

After the State Council finalizes the draft, it will submit it to the National People’s Congress (NPC), for further discussion and possibly more public consultation.  It appears passage of the law will come in 2015.  Once its passed, further legislation will be needed, including a judicial interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court, to address the evidentiary and other issues in the law.  Earlier posts on domestic violence are linked here, there, and there.  Local governments have started drafting their own legislation, including Shenzhen and Guangdong.

The Supreme People’s Court on domestic violence legislation

copyright Shenzhen

(originally published here)

In its 29 August Wechat feed (which reproduced an article  published in the People’s Court Newspaper), the Court issued an update on domestic violence legislation, focusing on Shenzhen’s draft Anti-Domestic Violence Regulations (Domestic Violence Regulations).  The Domestic Violence Regulations have been incorporated into Shenzhen’s legislation plan and is intended to be adopted by year’s end.

The update highlights a conference earlier in August in Shenzhen that attracted over 160 experts from all over China to discuss an initial draft of the legislation.  Mark Obama also spoke at the conference.

It is likely that members of the group responsible for drafting the Court’s judicial interpretation on domestic violence participated in the conference.  As is often the case (and was noted in the update), Shenzhen is taking the lead in issuing promulgating legislation, serving as a pilot project for national legislation. Twenty nine localities have adopted domestic violence-related policies or local legislation.

Shenzhen domestic violence conference

Shenzhen domestic violence conference

This brief blogpost will highlight the following issues raised by the report:

  • Disturbing domestic violence statistics;
  • Details on the draft legislation; and
  • Status of the Court’s domestic violence judicial interpretation.

Domestic violence statistics

The above article and other articles reporting on the Shenzhen conference have provided disturbing statistics on domestic violence.

  • Domestic violence occurs in about 25% of Chinese families;
  • About 10% of juvenile offenders were raised in abusive families (statistics on this issue seem to vary widely);
  • 30% of victims of domestic violence in China (women, children, and elderly) are afraid to speak out against their abusers;
  • The Shenzhen Women’s Federation provided statistics on local (Shenzhen) domestic violence:
    • it occurs in 55 percent of Shenzhen homes among people aged 28-50;
    • 85.8 percent of violent incidents occur between married couples;
    •  93.9 percent of these are cases of husbands being violent towards their wives.
  • A examination of 300 cases reviewed by the NGO Beijing Children’s Legal Aid & Research Center revealed that:
    • 65% of children had been subject to corporal punishment;
    • of 32 cases of child sex abuse, 75% were committed by guardians, with about half committed by fathers.

 Draft legislation issues

Reports on the draft Shenzhen legislation have highlighted the following issues among others:

  • Scope of the persons protected by the legislation–whether persons living together, intimate partners, former spouses or partners should be covered–the initial draft of the Shenzhen Women’s Federation excluded these relationships.  Xu Ruishan, of the Shenzhen Municipal Procuratorate recommended that the legislation protect persons living together and former spouses from domestic violence, because of the prevalence of couples living together without marriage, while Professor Tao Lin, Secretary General of the Shenzhen Family Planning Association, recommended protecting intimate partners, because of the frequent violence in those relationships.
  • The type of domestic violence to be covered by the legislation, whether it should include economic, emotional, and sexual violence, as well as physical.

Status of the domestic violence judicial interpretation

Although the status of the Court’s judicial interpretation (discussed in an earlier blogpost) was not specifically addressed, in the article, Zhou Feng, the head of the #1 Criminal Division of the Court revealed his views that:

  • domestic violence offenses should be able to be either publicly or privately prosecuted;
  • a mandatory and voluntary reporting system should be instituted for entities and individuals who become aware of domestic violence (this is generally seen in domestic violence legislation internationally).

It may be that the timing of the issuance of the domestic violence judicial interpretation is related to the timing of the promulgation of national domestic violence legislation, but Court spokesmen have not been forthcoming on this issue.

Further details on the Shenzhen draft legislation

If anyone reading this blogpost has a copy of the draft Shenzhen legislation, attended the Shenzhen conference, or has further information on the status of the domestic violence judicial interpretation and is willing to share details about them, please use the comment function. Thank you!

And finally, the Supreme People’s Court Monitor thanks followers for their patience during the blog’s downtime. Future posts will address some of the many recent developments.