Quarter of wives are victims of abuse

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 October, 2011, 12:00am


Nearly a quarter of married women on the mainland have experienced some form of abuse in their marriages, with more than 5 per cent suffering from domestic violence, a survey has found.

The survey on the social status of women on the mainland, released in Beijing yesterday by the All-China Women's Federation, found that 24.7 per cent of respondents had suffered from verbal humiliation, assault, restriction of personal freedom, control of their finances or forced sex.

Physical assaults were reported by 5.5 per cent - with a rate of 7.9 per cent among rural women and 3.1 per cent in urban areas.

Federation vice-chairwoman Zhen Yan said more women nowadays stood up for themselves and resisted domestic abuse than they did a decade ago.

'Traditionally domestic abuse was considered a family affair, and most victims would not go to the police or women's associations,' she said. 'But in the past decade, since the law clearly came out against domestic abuse and people's awareness was raised, they are seeking help from police, courts, public opinion and society in general.'

Lu Xiaoquan, a women's rights lawyer with the Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Consultation Service Centre, said domestic abuse was a problem in society.

Lu said that awareness should not only be raised among women - the victims - but also among those charged with enforcing the law to protect women. He said many people still regarded violence as a matter between the couple and one they could reconcile between themselves rather than involving the law.

In one case Lu represented, Dong Shanshan, 26, who had been repeatedly beaten up and stripped naked for public humiliation, called police eight times. But police left each time after lecturing her husband, without taking any further action. Dong was assaulted more seriously after the police left. She eventually died in October 2009, two months after a serious assault which led to multiple organ failure.

Her husband was jailed for six years for abuse, not manslaughter, which Lu said reflected the lack of awareness of domestic violence in the judicial system.

The mainland has yet to draft a standalone law covering domestic abuse, although a few articles in other laws, such as the marriage law, address the crime. In August, a federation official said the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress had put a domestic violence law on the agenda for future legislation.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that 85 per cent of women were satisfied with their status in the family.

Women say they are now more educated, enjoy a healthier lifestyle and have more control of the family finances than before, but they also say they are subjected to more discrimination.

About 2.2 per cent of employed women were the heads of companies, government agencies or party offices, whereas about 4 per cent of men were in the same positions. More than 80 per cent of workplaces for 'high-level talents' were headed by men and more than 30 per cent of them promoted men faster than women.

Women were also found to work 37 minutes longer than men on work days and have nearly an hour less for leisure than men during days off.