China Passes First Domestic Violence Law

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On Sunday, December 27, 2015, China’s National People’s Congress passed the country’s first law prohibiting domestic violence. The law as passed protects unmarried people who cohabit but does not protect gay couples. The new law will take effect in March of 2016.

China previously did not have a law regarding violence in the family. Domestic violence is an issue that so often remains ignored due to the social stigma of bringing shame to one’s family in traditional Chinese culture. Supporters of the law hope that the new law will encourage victims of domestic violence to come forward.

Domestic violence has long been considered a private matter as any type of family conflict is embarrassing and shameful to not only those directly involved, but the family as a whole. This has continuously resulted in fears to speak up as a victim and report what has occurred. In some cases, it has even been reported that police have turned away brave victims that came forward for help. As a deep rooted part of Chinese Culture of familial privacy, it remains to be seen how effective the law will be in giving victims a voice.

The new law as passed by the National People’s Congress protects against any form of domestic violence which includes psychological abuse. The inclusion of coverage for psychological and emotional harm will assist victims in obtaining restraining orders when necessary. The new law requires courts to rule on a complaint within 72 hours of filing. Additionally, the law requires police to immediately respond to reported abuse.

With as many as one in four reported women becoming victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives, the Anti-Domestic Violence is a huge step in providing the proper protection to victims in China.