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September 22, 2011

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Auntie Bai: Get tough on domestic violence

A POPULAR Shanghai television show mediator and lawmaker has called for stricter punishments for perpetrators of domestic violence.

Bai Wanqing, known as "Auntie Bai" to fans of her show on local TV, has submitted a proposal to the legislative authorities calling for specific punishments for offenders.

The problem solver, who is a deputy to the Shanghai People's Congress, said that although under both China's Law of Marriage and Law of Women's Rights Protection domestic violence is banned, no punishment is mentioned.

Traditional Chinese thought believes that domestic violence is a family matter.

Therefore, unless the victim dies or is seriously injured, culprits are rarely punished.

"Family violence should not be a family matter," Bai said. "They hurt people, so they should face punishment as everyone is equal before the law."

This follows a case over the weekend in which a woman living in Songjiang District was stabbed by her former husband, who then tried to commit suicide.

Both are still in hospital.

The woman divorced her husband because he beat her frequently, during which time police talked to him but took no further action.

He began stalking his former wife after they divorced in May.

Bai pointed out that family violence does not only happen between couples, but also between parents and children, brothers and sisters.

Cases have been reported of children beating their parents to obtain property.

Bai gave an example in the Pudong New Area where a son tried to force his mother to remove her name from her apartment ownership certificate, and beat her when she refused.

The mother jumped from the 13th floor apartment, but was saved by a laundry rack on the floor below.

Police attended the scene but refused to take away the son, insisting this was a "family matter."

Although the city has a shelter for local women who suffer domestic violence, such initiatives can't solve the problem, said Bai.

The shelter only allows victims to stay for 10 days, and after they leave they are still likely to be hurt again by family members, she said.


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