Print This Page Email This Page
Fighting Family Violence for Gender Equality

A young woman drops in at a government social relief shelter with her child, begging not for money, but for food. The experienced staff, trained in handling domestic violence cases, see the fear in her eyes and are quick to detect the inconsistencies in her statements. Thanks to their patience and persistent but sympathetic questioning, out comes a sad tale.

That happened a year ago in a town in East China's Shandong Province. Today, the woman, surnamed Dong, works as a translator in Xuzhou in East China's Jiangsu Province. She is proficient both in Russian and Korean. And most importantly, she is free - from her husband's regular beatings and the constant fear she used to live in. Her main concern now is to give her child the good life that it deserves.

How did this miracle come about? After listening to her tale of torture, the employees of the Shandong social relief shelter, part of a pilot national network for domestic violence victims, contacted their colleagues in Xuzhou. They made all the necessary arrangements for Dong's rehabilitation there, giving her a chance to start life anew.

The two shelters in the neighboring provinces are blazing a new trail in protecting the rights of women and children. According to Xuzhou Anti-Domestic Violence Shelter program chief Ma Li, their "pioneering" work is part of an ongoing national program. What's more, the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) is considering introducing the domestic violence intervention scheme in 1,200 social relief shelters across the country.

Government social relief shelters usually offer those seeking help -most of them beggars - a few free meals, a few nights' free lodging and a free train ticket back home. But victims of severe domestic violence - most of whom are women and children - need not have to return home. And since they are likely to continue living in fear in shelters in their home towns, they are shifted to other places.

In the past 15 months, the Xuzhou shelter has received 196 woman victims, and the employees have helped four of them find jobs and start a new life in another city. Apart from providing lodging and medical care, the shelter also offers psychological counseling and legal help to the victims.

Sometimes providing a free ticket back home is like depriving them of the chance to learn to deal with domestic violence, Ma said on Friday on the sidelines of a forum supported by the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

This is just the first step in a noble mission, he said. "So many women are in need of help." A survey sponsored by All China Women's Federation revealed violence was part of about 35 percent of the 270 million families in China, with most of the victims being women. The nature and severity of the violence varies, though.

Also, surveys conducted in different places in the past two years have shown that at least 20 percent of divorce cases stem from family violence.

Xuzhou's pilot program is funded jointly by the MCA and China Gender Facility, set up in 2004 to meet the UN's millennium development goals (MDGs) and reduce gender inequality in the country. Initiated by the UN Theme Group on Gender (UNTGG), the China Gender Facility comprises UN, multilateral and bilateral development agencies and international NGOs.

Since its launch, the program has provided funding for 16 pilot programs, such as the one in Xuzhou. It has reviewed the condition of women suffering from HIV/AIDS, migrant workers and senior citizens.

The innovative and catalytic projects aim to enhance awareness and knowledge of the people and advocate policy change. "The size of the task ahead of us is daunting," Constance Thomas, director/representative of International Labor Organization and the UNTGG chair, said at Friday's forum. According to UN Development Program, China is 81st on the list of 177 countries in the global Gender Development Index.

Participants at the forum were told that despite the past couple of decades of high economic growth and significant progress in poverty alleviation, gender disparity is still a problem in China. In fact, it's a major "stumbling block" toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

"But we gain courage and confidence from the valuable experiences and good practices already achieved and the partnerships the UN has built through the China Gender Facility," Thomas said.

Hopefully, the work being done by shelters like the ones in Shandong and Jiangsu will be emulated across the country and build the momentum toward achieving gender equality in China.

(China Daily July 16, 2007)

Related Stories
- Gender Equality Calls for Legislative Efforts
- Chinese Women Pursue Gender Equality in Choosing Between Career and Family
- Lack of Social Security Blamed for Gender Imbalance
- Poll: Women Hold Senior Positions

Print This Page Email This Page
Foreign Firms Lend a Hand to Flood Victims
100 Mln Illiterates Learned to Read and Write in Decade
New Moves to Guide Buying of Medical Equipment
First Half Summer Grain Output Rises Despite Disasters
Tibetan Electricity Deal Inked
Ministry Strengthens Water Quality Monitoring

Product Directory
China Search
Country Search
Hot Buys