China’s first law against domestic violence approved

Beijing, Dec 27 (IANS) China’s top legislature on Sunday adopted the country’s first bill against domestic violence in a landmark move to bring silent abuse victims under legal protection.

The legislation was approved by a landslide majority at the end of a week-long bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The country prohibits any form of domestic violence,” said the new law, which formally defines domestic violence and streamlines the process for obtaining restraining orders — measures long advocated by anti-domestic abuse groups.

Domestic violence is defined as physical, psychological and other harm inflicted by family members with beatings, restraint or forcible limits on physical liberty, recurring invectives and verbal threats listed as examples.

An earlier draft, submitted in August this year, included only physical abuse, but many lawmakers have since argued that the definition was too narrow.

According to the new bill, victims and those in immediate danger can file for a personal protection order that the court must grant or deny within 72 hours. In urgent cases, decisions must be made within 24 hours.

Police, women’s federations and social service organs, in addition to close relatives, would all be able to apply for orders for those with no or limited civil capacity or those who cannot do so themselves as a result of physical force or threats.

Once the order is granted, courts may prohibit the abuser from harassing, stalking or contacting the applicant and his or her close relatives, order the abuser to move out of the home, or adopt various other measures to protect the applicant.

Should the abuser violate the protection order, they may be fined up to 1,000 yuan, detained for up to 15 days or face criminal charges in serious offences.

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