China might introduce a law to protect victims of domestic abuse, including a mechanism for restraining orders. But some activists said the draft legislation was too narrow and did not recognise partners outside marriage. The draft is being reviewed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in its legislative session this week in Beijing. Mainland criminal law does not have provisions specifically protecting domestic violence victims. According to a Xinhua report, the problem remains widespread across the mainland, with Zhejiang province alone recording about 23,000 cases last year. But in situations where the police are called to a home, they often respond by encouraging the partners to resolve the conflict themselves. In serious cases, where a partner has been severely injured, the attacker is charged with aggravated assault. The draft defines domestic violence as hitting, tying up, hurting, torturing or otherwise restraining the freedom of family members. But it does not address other forms of abuse that often accompany domestic violence, such as assuming control of property, bullying or forced sex. Read more: Mainland China finally considering reclassifying sex with underage prostitutes as rape after pressure from activists Li Ying, director of the Yuanzhong Gender Development Centre, said women's groups first proposed the law in 1995. "Legalising the protection of domestic violence victims would be a milestone but it only roughly reflects the severity of the problem," she said. Li said the draft omitted "emotional abuse", which was included in last year's draft. "It's a real shame to see the law bearing an even narrower definition this year, focusing only on physical abuse and leaving out other severe forms of abuse such as emotional, sexual and financial control," Li said. She also criticised the draft for failing to recognise other intimate relationships such as co-habiting partners or former spouses. Legalising the protection of domestic violence victims would be a milestone but it only roughly reflects the severity of the problem Li Ying, Yuanzhong Gender Development Centre The proposed law would allow close relatives of victims to lodge complaints and seek help on their behalf, while schools, kindergartens and medical institutions could be responsible for reporting cases to police if minors or those "with limited ability" are directly involved. After receiving calls for help, the police would be required to investigate and collect evidence while helping victims get medical attention. The Beijing News quoted Professor Xia Yinlan of China University of Political Science and Law as saying it was significant the proposed law clearly laid out interdepartmental cooperation. It could prevent domestic violence while allowing victims to obtain official warning letters or restraining orders, Xia was quoted as saying. Ai Xiaoming, a Guangdong-based women's studies scholar and activist, earlier told the South China Morning Post that not until recently "has the Chinese public started to see domestic violence as violence in a legal sense". People saw it as a "private matter" in which the police should not interfere.