The bodies of a woman and two young children who have been found dead in a flat in Shau Kei Wan are being remove from the flat. Photo: Edward Wong

Domestic violence categories under fire

Two-tier system means many cases are not properly followed up, says women's group

Johnny Tam

The police system for classifying domestic violence cases may be abetting family tragedies rather than preventing them, a women's group says.

The Association for the Survivors of Women Abuse said yesterday the police categories of "domestic violence" - which warrants urgent follow-up - and "domestic incident" - which doesn't - meant many marginal cases were being ignored.

The group was commenting after Friday's bloodbath in Shau Kei Wan, in which a woman, 34, and her two children were killed, allegedly by her mainland boyfriend - the children's father. The man, 39, is under arrest.

Consultant Chung Yuen-yi said the woman had sought help, but the case was classified as a "domestic incident" and was not immediately followed up on.

"If I call the police, it's definitely because I feel my personal safety is being threatened. If it's just a minor quarrel between husband and wife, no one would bother calling," she said.

Committee member Xu Mei-qiong said the government had failed to stop similar domestic tragedies even after accepting 12 recommendations from an inquest into the stabbing and chopping deaths of a Tin Shui Wai family of four in 2004.

"It has been nine years but it hasn't learnt a lesson ," Xu said. "It has always underestimated domestic violence."

She urged the Social Welfare Department to increase its vigilance over domestic violence cases to prevent family tragedies from happening.

A police spokeswoman said a sergeant or higher level officer would be at the scene of domestice violence and the police would gauge whether there was a need for follow-up services from the Social Welfare Department.

A spokeswoman for the department said it regularly provided training to its frontline social workers.


This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Domestic violence categories under fire