Female Lawyers Call For Discretionary Circumstances in DV Cases Sentencing

December 17, 2014
Editor: Hewater Liu

A joint letter has called on the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council to add consideration of women's "criminal actions" related to domestic violence as discretionary circumstances in sentencing in trials.

The joint letter was sent to the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council by Li Ai, a woman lawyer in east China's Zhejiang Province, and 29 of her fellows from Guangdong, Henan, Sichuan, Anhui, Shaanxi, Beijing, Shanghai and several provinces across the country on December 12, 2014.

In order to further bolster legislation against domestic violence, the Office recently published a draft of The Law of People's Republic of China against Domestic Violence to solicit advice from the public at a press conference in Beijing. Institutions or individuals can log onto www.chinalaw.gov.cn to voice advice and opinions on the draft, or send letters to P.O. Box 2067, Beijing, or email fjtbl@chinalaw.gov.cn.

In recent years a rising number of Chinese women have been involved in criminal cases against abusive husbands, who have inflicted frequent domestic violence on them for a long time. As a consequence, some targeted women are forced to fight back with violent measures against their husbands, when they can no longer stand the physical abuse or humiliation by other means. As a result some of them have temporarily lost control of their senses, attacking and killing or physically disabling their husbands. They then become become involved in the legal system.

Li Yan, who comes from Ziyang City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, is just one example of a victim in these types of cases. Li suffered physical abuse and other forms of domestic violence from her late husband Tan Yong for a long time. She attempted to to seek help from her local bureau of public security and women's federation. However, her efforts in looking for help from these departments met a cold response. Ultimately, she chose to shoot Tan with a pistol when she suffered further violence on November 3, 2010.

The Sichuan Higher People's Court sentenced Li to death and refused to find any connection between domestic violence and the application of discretionary circumstances in sentencing in their judgment, even though the Supreme People's Court advised a retrial of Li's case this year.

Lawyer Li said domestic violence has become one of leading causes of women's involvement in criminal cases in recent years. Incomplete statistics from women's prisons in northeast China's Liaoning Province and north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region show about 50 percent of the incarcerated prisoners fall into the category of women retaliating against domestic abuse. In addition, 43 of 105 women criminals in south China's Jiangxi Province were sentenced to prison because they killed their husbands after suffering domestic violence, or 41 percent of the number.

However, existing judicial and legislative departments and regulations do not give due importance to the factor of domestic violence in trials of accused women who have killed their husbands to escape further and escalating violence, and refused to grant relatively lighter sentences, even though the Supreme People's Court released a notice in 2010 to rectify the trend.

Lawyer Li said that it was unfair for the women concerned because they had tried in vain to seek help to mitigate or put a stop to violence against them, before taking action themselves. And their actions had aimed to protect themselves and their children from further domestic violence.

Therefore, the opinion of a considerable number of people is the new draft law on domestic violence should include domestic violence as a discretionary circumstance in sentencing, and allow lighter sentences, particularly in comparison with the death penalty, Lawyer Li and other legal experts agree.

(Source: legaldaily.com.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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Background
  • Legal Environment for Women and Children

    Lawyers and rights groups held a press conference in Beijing on December 15, 2014 to discuss their suggestions to help improve China’s new draft law on domestic violence.
    Lawyers and rights groups held a press conference in Beijing on December 15, 2014 to discuss their suggestions to help improve China’s new draft law on domestic.

  • National Policy

    Lawyers and rights groups held a press conference in Beijing on December 15, 2014 to discuss their suggestions to help improve China’s new draft law on domestic violence.
    Lawyers and rights groups held a press conference in Beijing on December 15, 2014 to discuss their suggestions to help improve China’s new draft law on domestic violence.

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