In a landmark decision, China’s Parliament on Monday adopted the country’s first law against domestic violence, bringing traditionally silent abuse victims, including couples who are in live-in relationship, under legal protection.
The new law, passed by the Chinese national legislature, prohibits any form of domestic violence, including psychological abuse.
“The country prohibits any form of domestic violence,” reads the new law, which formally defines domestic violence and streamlines the process for obtaining restraining orders – measures long advocated by anti-domestic abuse groups, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The legislation was approved at the end of a week-long bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.
According to the new bill, victims and those in immediate danger can file for a personal protection order that the court must grant or deny within 72 hours. In urgent cases, decisions must be made within 24 hours.
Once the order is granted, courts may prohibit the abuser from harassing, stalking or contacting the applicant and his or her close relatives, order the abuser to move out of the home, or adopt various other measures to protect the applicant.
If the abuser violate the protection order, they may be fined up to 1,000 yuan, detained for up to 15 days or face criminal charges in serious offences.
Domestic violence is defined as physical, psychological and other harm inflicted by family members with beatings, restraint or forcible limits on physical liberty, recurring invectives and verbal threats listed as examples.
It enables individuals and organisations to prevent domestic violence, and allows legal guardians and close relatives of abuse victims, in addition to the victims themselves, to report abuse.
Police will have to step in immediately when such a report is filed.
The new law also covers cohabitation, meaning those who are not related but live together are also included.According to Communist Party-run All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF), nearly 25 per cent of Chinese women have suffered domestic violence in their marriage.
More than 40,000 complaints of domestic violence are lodged with the ACWF each year
Victims resorting to the ACWF for help are mainly women, children and the elderly, and 88.3 per cent of cases received in 2014 involved abuse by husbands of their wives.China previously did not have a special law covering violence in the family.
References to the matter were only made in other laws and regulations such as the Marriage Law, the Law on the Protection of Minors and the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women.