Chinese Unite to Stop Violence Against Women

November 26, 2013
Editor: Liu Yunting
Chinese Unite to Stop Violence Against Women
British designer Stella McCartney designed a virtual white ribbon badge to raise awareness for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, 2013. [Sina Weibo]
A series of activities was held across China to commemorate the 14th International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women that fell on November 25, 2013.

In China's capital city of Beijing, a public forum urging men to participate in the campaign to stop violence against women was held on November 24, 2013, marking a new stage in anti-domestic violence work in China.

In conjunction with the forum, the first annual meeting of the Chinese white ribbon volunteers network was attended by more than 200 volunteers from all walks of life and representatives from the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In his speech, Arie Hoekman, chief representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in China, pointed out that men and boys play a significant role in ending gender-based violence and without their involvement, the goal of gender equality may never be achieved. He also called on Chinese men to pledge commitments to zero tolerance for violence against women.

The white ribbon hotline (4000 110391) launched by the Chinese white ribbon volunteers network provides counseling to people involved in gender-based violence.

Initiator of the Chinese white ribbon volunteers Fang Gang said their work offers men the opportunity to be part of the solution to end violence against women and to be an active part in the efforts to stop violence against women instead of remaining silent.

In Shenzhen City in southern China's Guangdong Province, an anti-domestic violence forum was held on November 23, 2013, attracting more than 150 experts and representatives of social organizations from both China and abroad.

Vice Secretary-General of the China Women's Development Foundation (CWDF) Zhu Xisheng briefly introduced the efforts that the CWDF and women's federations across the country have made to safeguard women's and children's legal rights and interests. Experts from the University of Hong Kong gave a speech on professional psychological intervention for victims of domestic violence.

The attendees also emphasized that creating a law against domestic violence is the key to stamping out gender-based violence and protecting women from abuse. More shelters for victims should also be built nationwide.

The women's federation in Nanjing, capital city of eastern China's Jiangsu Province, also launched a series of legal service activities on November 24-25, 2013.

Statistics from the Nanjing Public Security Bureau show that the bureau handles about 3,000 cases involving domestic violence per year. The Nanjing Women's Federation has held several campaigns over the past few years to raise public awareness of anti-domestic violence and educate women on the laws and regulations that can protect them from abuse.

President of Nanjing Women's Federation Song Xiaohui introduced to the media the Domestic Violence Warning System that the city implemented in 2012. According to the system, the local public security bureau will serve perpetrators in minor domestic violence cases that are unsuitable for administrative penalty with warnings when necessary. Those who have received a warning but continue their behavior will be given heavier punishment. The warnings can be used as evidence in court but not as replacements for administrative and criminal punishment.

The following situations can be applied to the system: the abuser takes initiative to eliminate or reduce illegal consequences and has been forgiven by the victim and the circumstances of crime are relatively light and the abuser and the victim have reached an agreement after the mediation of the public security department. Both situations are not suitable for administrative penalty enforcement, according to the law.

A survey by the ACWF showed that domestic violence happened in 30 percent of the 270 million Chinese families polled, with over 85 percent of the sufferers being women and 100,000 families in China being destroyed by it each year.

Most victims of domestic violence suffer in silence, with 30.6 percent of them thinking that seeking help will be of no use and that they should solve the issue themselves. Almost 30 percent believe that domestic violence should be kept a private matter.

The ACWF began focusing on stamping out domestic violence against women in the mid-1990s, when the issue rose to prominence in Chinese society. With the ACWF's lobbying in recent years, China's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, plans to create a law against domestic violence.

Currently, there are 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government that have already carried out local regulations or policies preventing and stopping domestic violence and more than 90 cities have developed relevant policy documents providing valuable reference material for the legislation.

In addition, the ACWF has opened the 12338 hotline in more than 2,800 counties across China and established Women's Homes throughout the country to offer shelter to women.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women has also become known around the world as White Ribbon Day. To mark the event, men and boys are urged to wear white ribbons as a visible pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

The day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999 in recognition of the brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, who were political activists in the Dominican Republic and took a stand against the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. In 1981, women's activists began to recognize the day as being pivotal in the fight against violence to women and as the women's movement grew, November 25 came to be regarded as a special day.

Statistics from a global report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this year showed that some 35 percent of all women experience either intimate partner or non-partner violence and intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 percent of women worldwide. Partner violence is a major contributor to women's mental health problems.

(Source: China Women's News / Translated by womenofchina.cn)

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