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More Females Seek Help with Domestic Violence

The number of women seeking help over domestic violence doubled in Beijing last year, figures show.

And women still have an inferior status in family life and employment, a local justice official said yesterday on the eve of International Women's Day.

"Efforts to free women from domestic violence and unfairness in employment should be stepped up," said Shi Guangchun, chief of the legal assistance work guidance division at the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice.

He made the remarks at a press conference yesterday, organized to review the legal assistance given to women in need last year.

"The number of women being helped over domestic violence doubled last year compared with 2003," Xu said.

Municipal-, district- and county-level legal assistance organizations in Beijing gave help to women on more than 800 occasions last year, according to the official.

A woman suffering from a gynecological disease was one of those who asked for help.

She was continuously abused by her husband after falling ill. He even forced her out of their home. He also refused to pay her medical fees and daily expenses, even though she was off work because of ill health.

The woman finally contacted Daxing District Legal Assistance Centre for help.

The centre then appointed lawyer Sun Tao to represent the woman in her attempts to sue her husband in court for support payments.

The court decided that the husband should pay monthly expenses to his ill wife.

In total, women were helped on a range of issues on around 80,000 occasions in Beijing last year, with over 30 percent related to marital disputes.

"Women's legal interests were infringed over divorce, the partition of properties and inheritance," Shi said.

"Some women were not aware of their husbands' true income and property situation when they divorced," he said.

"Some wives failed to get evidence of husbands who co-habited with other women. The women were then in a disadvantaged position," he said.

Meanwhile, another 20 percent of all consultations given to women were over labour disputes.

"Some employers dismissed female workers when they became pregnant," Shi said yesterday.

"Some refused to sign employment contracts with female employees," he added.

The official also stressed that the Labor Law, which went into effect 10 years ago, was now out of date in some aspects.

Various levels of legal assistance organizations in Beijing adopted 1,100 cases put forward by women last year, sources said.

(China Daily March 8, 2005)

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