Better Late Than Never: China Introduces Legislation on Domestic Violence

By Lauren Levine, Executive Associate

While those of us in the U.S. work to raise awareness about domestic violence and work towards prevention, we take for granted that all countries recognize domestic violence as a crime. According to U.N. Women, in 102 countries there are no specific legal provisions against domestic violence.  A recent article from Women’s E-News reported on a new piece of Chinese legislation, introduced in the past few weeks, that finally clearly defines domestic violence, including physical, mental and sexual abuse, and the legislation specifies punishments.

This piece of legislation, though better late than never, comes out of a tragic example of domestic violence that captured Chinese national media attention on the issue for the first time. In 2009, a young bride, Dong Shanshan, was killed after ten months of abuse from her husband. Her first call to the police to report this abuse was made on her honeymoon. She called the police eight more times over the next 10 months. It was only when she was on her deathbed that they actually listened to her.

Approximately 1 in 10 calls to the police in China are reports of domestic abuse, and China is not unique in its history of ambivalence toward protecting women from violence. The story of Dong Shanshan doesn’t need to be a call of action just to China but to lawmakers and their constituents around the world. It’s only through raising our voices about this all too common injustice that we can honor those like Dong who struggled. Learn more about our advocacy work and help protect the rights of women worldwide.

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