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Psychological Abuse 'on Rise'

Domestic abuse is on the increase in China, and its form is becoming increasingly psychological rather than physical, a women's counselor said on Wednesday.

Hou Zhiming, director of the Maple Women's Psychological Counseling Center, a nonprofit organization based in Beijing, told China Daily that "cold violence" is a growing problem among spouses and cohabiting partners.

"Cold violence is psychological, rather than physical, abuse and can involve such things as verbal attacks, disregarding a partner's views, or imposing economic controls on them," she said.

The Maple center operates several helplines for victims of abuse and receives about 1,000 calls a day.

"Most of the callers are women who have suffered physical or psychological abuse from their husbands or partners," Hou said.

"The number of young women victims is on the rise."

Physical abuse is most often found in low-income, low-education families, while cold violence is more common in families at the opposite end of the scale, she said.

About one-third of China's 267 million families have experienced some form of domestic violence, a recent survey by the All-China Women's Federation found.

Jiang Yue'e, an official in charge of women's rights at the federation, said abuse of women has spread to younger generations, since the post-1980s generation reached marriageable age.

"Since the post-1980s generation has a higher average level of education, they tend to use psychological abuse, rather than physical abuse," Beijing Times quoted Jiang as saying on Tuesday.

She was speaking at an event to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Jiao Mingming, a psychiatrist at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, said couples that feel they are in a "cold war" should seek counseling as soon as possible.

"They must try to solve their problems, rather than ignoring them until the marriage is on the brink of collapse," she said.

"Cold violence is on the increase, and is often triggered by the increasing work and economic pressures of modern life," she said.

"As women have achieved more financial independence and improved social status they have begun to want a greater say in family issues. As a result, men's traditional roles have changed, which can lead to disputes," Jiao said.

(China Daily November 27, 2008)

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