In China, Calls Grow For New Legislation on Domestic Violence

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Li Yan shown in an undated photo.
Li Yan shown in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Amnesty International.

A recent decision by China's highest court to overturn a death sentence handed to a woman who killed her abusive husband has sparked growing calls for a change in the law and more protection for victims of domestic violence.

In June, China's Supreme People's Court overturned the sentence handed to Li Yan, who killed and dismembered her husband Tan Yong in 2010, ordering a retrial at the Sichuan High People's Court.

The ruling came after 2007 reforms of China's death penalty system, which require the Supreme Court to review death penalties in an apparent bid to limit the number of cases that result in execution.

The decision on Li Yan was welcomed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases.

During her trial, the court heard that Tan had beaten Li, extinguished cigarettes on her face, and locked her out on their balcony in winter.

Li testified in her defense that she had accidentally killed Tan by hitting him with the barrel of an air rifle he had threatened to shoot her with, before beating and kicking her, in November 2010.

She later dismembered the body, but a friend she told about the killing tipped off the police, media reports said at the time.

Complaints ignored

Li was sentenced to death in spite of previous complaints she had made to police and to the All China Women's Federation (ACWF) of repeated verbal and physical abuse.

Her lawyers, relatives, and human rights groups all say this evidence wasn't taken seriously by the courts that sentenced her or by those that upheld the sentence on appeal.

Campaigners are now calling for China to push ahead with a draft law on domestic violence, which is currently pending in the country's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC).

Li Yan's case sparked a signature campaign by hundreds of Chinese lawyers, scholars, and nongovernment groups calling for a stay of execution.

The U.N. has urged Beijing, which has signed international treaties committed to eliminating violence against women, to ensure that all cases of violence against women, including domestic violence, are promptly, impartially, and effectively investigated, and that perpetrators are prosecuted.

One of the campaigners, China Southeastern University professor Zhang Zanning, welcomed the Supreme Court decision.

But he said that social attitudes to domestic violence also need to change.

"Domestic violence is a pretty major problem in China, and the fact that the Supreme Court has used its power to send the case back for a retrial is a forward step," Zhang said.

"But I think we need to do more to protect [victims], as well as setting out some clear laws banning the death penalty in murder trials where domestic violence has been a factor," he said.

Public outcry

Beijing-based rights activist Lu Jun, who founded the nongovernment group Yirenping, said that Li's case and others like it have sparked a public outcry.

"There have been a number of reports and studies in recent years including these sorts of cases, and people really care about domestic violence as an issue," Lu said.

"And yet we still haven't seen much improvement in terms of our legislation, judicial processes, or police involvement," he said. "This is a debate that we in our country really need to have."

"The government is really deficient when it comes to the judicial system and in terms of attitudes towards domestic violence," he said.

"I don't think the police have any internal monitoring of the issue, or any statistics."

Reported by He Ping for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Comments (1)

Xhit Cheatpig

The true reason why Chinese are desperate and "torture" each other is the vain grandeur of the oligarchic CCP (Cloned Chinese Pigs). They buy fame, respect and love abroad with the money of the hard-working Chinese people. Example: "China's EximBank Suspends Loans For Roads, Bridges in Laos" while some Chinese migrant workers live like abandoned dogs in some places dirties and smaller than a pigsty. BTW, the Chinese "new-rich" prefer to invest in US realty than in their very own land. Who are they? They're certainly the fattest CCPigs like the leading pig Xhit Cheatpig. Xhit's precious daughter "studies" in Boston...because China lacks of "prestige" university like Harvard or MIT.

Poor plain Chinese. Because they can't touch the God-like CCPigs they chicane each other.

Jul 24, 2014 12:31 PM





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