Statement : Family
Violence Law takes a historical step forward for children’s and women’s protection
4th March, 2016 Beijing
The UN System in China welcomed the entering into force of the Family Violence Law on March 1, marking a significant step in preventing and protecting victims of family violence in the country.
Adopted at the 18th Session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 27 December 2015, the law prohibits family violence, defined as physical, emotional and other behaviors in the form of beating, binding, mutilation and restriction of personal freedom as well as constant insulting and intimidation between family members.
“This landmark piece of legislation represents a critical step forward in protecting the rights and dignity of family violence victims, particularly women, children, elderly and persons living with disabilities” said Rana Flowers, the Co-Chair of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on the Law and Representative of UNICEF.
Julia Broussard, the other Co-Chair of the Task Force and Country Programme Manager for UN Women added: “The UN remains committed to continuing to work with the Government to enforce and to help build the needed systems to protect those affected by violence within the family.”
In China, once considered a “family matter”, the issue of family violence has received growing attention, especially given increased media reporting on individual cases. Evidence clearly demonstrates that family violence can have a devastating impact in the family. Violence against children and women is rooted in and reproduces power imbalances in family and society.
Almost one in four married Chinese women have experienced domestic violence, according to the Third Survey on Chinese Women’s Social Status conducted by the All-China Women’s Federation. But as it is generally the case, this figure is likely underreported, since many women victims of domestic violence choose to remain silent. Given the lack of comprehensive data on violence against children, it is also difficult to determine the scale of the problem and design an effective and comprehensive response.
The law, which was the result of many years of efforts by various organizations, emphasizes the importance of prevention first, establishes a mandatory reporting system for family violence and obliges law enforcement officers to intervene immediately when a report is filed and helps streamline the process for obtaining protection orders from the courts, resulting in the provision of more channels for domestic violence victims to receive assistance. It also extends coverage to include unmarried couples that cohabitate, thus acknowledging changes in family structure.
The UN Inter-Agency Task Force, co-chaired by UN Women and UNICEF, and including UNFPA, UNESCO, UNDP, ILO and WHO, was set up in May 2012. It worked extensively with the Government of China on preparing the legislation. Technical assistance from within the UN and global experts has focused on how to include prevention of family violence and protection and assistance to victims, to punish and rehabilitate perpetrators, as well as highlighted the different practices countries have adopted to ensure the respect, protection and fulfillment of the rights of victims of family violence in national court proceedings and the ensuing rehabilitation and integration services.
The UN Country Team in China commends the Government for enacting this historical legislation and looks forward to supporting its implementation.