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Domestic Violence on the Rise

Domestic violence is on the rise in China, a senior official of the All China Women's Federation said Sunday.

Jiang Yue'e, head of the ACWF's rights and interests department, said the federation received 40,000 to 50,000 complaints of domestic violence annually, and the number of cases kept increasing in recent years.

Statistics from the ACWF showed that 50,000 complaints on domestic violence were reported to the federation last year, up 70 percent over the previous year.

"The increase indicates that domestic violence is widespread in China and women's awareness of safeguarding their rights and interests has been improved with reinforced publicity by relevant institutions," Jiang said.

Chinese women in rural areas, especially those working in cities, are susceptible to family violence, according to Jiang.

A survey conducted by the ACWF in 2006 showed that 11.6 percent of the female respondents in rural areas said they had fought with their husbands during the previous year, while the proportion rose to 13.5 percent concerning women who came from the countryside but are now working in the cities.

"Female migrant workers are restricted in accessing legal assistance as they are constantly on the move," Jiang said. "For example, divorce is more costly for them to use as a way to escape from family violence than women from urban areas."

The survey also showed that increasing cases of brutal abuse are causing women victims to fight violence with violence, according to Jiang.

The federation's most recent study showed about 46 percent of the 513 female convicts in one provincial prison had been victims of family violence.

Traditionally, mediation has been recommended in spouse-abuse cases, as Chinese people are accustomed to keeping family problems private. But many experts advise that police, the judiciary and civil affairs authorities need to be more active in preventing and fighting domestic violence.

"The women's services, police and government agencies have begun to make joint efforts to address the problem," Jiang said.

Coordination between different services produced more efficient and effective protection for the victims, she said.

(Xinhua News Agency November 26, 2007)

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