February 01, 2015

Chinese Advocates Advance Efforts to Address Domestic Violence


February 2015

The public commenting period for China’s first national anti-domestic violence draft law ended on December 25, 2014. The Legislative Affairs Office of China’s State Council had been accepting citizens’ feedback since it released the draft law on November 26.

It was released on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, igniting an important national dialogue. The draft law—which for the first time defines domestic violence—represents an important milestone in advocates’ decades-long efforts to address domestic violence and to afford survivors access to justice. Hundreds of local and international organizations, including several ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) partners, submitted suggestions. Continuing its collaboration with local anti-domestic violence organizations, ABA ROLI assisted local stakeholders in developing comments on the draft law. Their recommendations include expanding the scope of the law to cover individuals outside of married heterosexual relationships and encouraging the inclusion of sexual abuse and economic exploitation in the definition of domestic violence.

“With national attention now focused on this serious social problem, ABA ROLI looks forward to future coordination with its partner organizations in finalizing and implementing a law that has come to represent a new source of hope for domestic-violence survivors across the country,” said Jen Leung, ABA ROLI’s country director in China.

Since 2005, ABA ROLI has worked with stakeholders striving for domestic violence-related reforms, supporting locally-driven initiatives—including the 2008 creation of the country’s first pilot courts that issue protection orders in domestic-violence cases and advocacy for policies and laws protecting domestic-violence victims. ABA ROLI also trained more than 1,000 judges, prosecutors and other justice sector actors to prepare them to adjudicate domestic-violence cases.

The draft anti-domestic violence law incorporates a number of the best practices and policy suggestions ABA ROLI partners have promoted over the past 10 years. Its provisions on the use of protection orders, for instance, integrate many of the recommendations in a judicial benchbook that the Supreme People’s Court’s Institute of Applied Jurisprudence developed with ABA ROLI support. The draft law also delineates the duties of legal institutions and other state actors in responding to domestic violence—a key theme of ABA ROLI’s trainings.

ABA ROLI will incorporate important elements of the law into future trainings for judges and lawyers to support its effective implementation.

To learn more about our work in China, contact the ABA rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.