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R.P. BenDedek

Domestic Violence in China
By R.P. BenDedek
Oct 8, 2008 - 12:20:51 PM

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This week was for my Monday Morning class, the first time that they have had to enter into 'group discussions' without the benefit of knowing in advance what the topic would be or of knowing with whom they would be in discussion.

Since the purpose of my lessons is to have students use normal conversational skills, such as changing topics and to think and speak at the same time; one can never be sure where the conversation will go.

It was therefore a surprise to me when one of the participants began to discuss the issue of 'Domestic Violence'. It is the first time this topic has been raised in any of my classes in the 6 years that I have been teaching.

Since I always try to provide articles to match topics raised in class, I did an internet search on Domestic Violence in China, and came up with this article published in 2004.

The article is three pages long and contains a lot of details, personal stories, and legal insights. It is well worth reading, and I provide here just some of the isolated statements made throughout the article.

In China, a custom of spousal abuse by Edward A. Gargan : April 12, 2004

  • China's women suffer the highest suicide rate in the world, a rate 25 percent higher than for Chinese men, and in the countryside, where the majority of China's women live, one-third of all deaths among young women are a result of suicide.
  • "Physical abuse is higher in rural areas, while emotional violence is more common in cities,"
  • "And we did a survey of the judiciary in one province to see what judges and prosecutors thought about domestic violence. Most of them thought it was a personal matter, a family matter, something they should not interfere in."
  • Much of the violence committed against women is veiled from view by notions of tradition and custom, what is commonly called "mianzi," or face; it is the fear of "losing face," the disgrace of "losing face," that has kept violence against women closeted and has...made it difficult to expose.
  • The triumph of communist rule in 1949, and Mao Zedong's much-heralded contention that "women hold up half the sky," has done little to diminish rural attitudes toward women's role in society and marriage.
  • In the vast swards of rural China, abused women have nowhere to turn, no one to save them from a brutal home life. In Beijing, and slowly in other cities, however, crisis hotlines are springing up, telephone centers where abused women, or women contemplating suicide, can seek counseling and help.
  • "There is no specific law in China that a woman can charge her husband," said Chen Mingxia, of the Marriage Law Institute.
  • "I think this is an old problem," she continued. "It's just that no one has cared about it. I would say historically in Chinese culture a man had the right to beat his wife. Legally there was great leeway for a man to beat his wife."
  • "Women feel that it doesn't matter if their husbands beat them," Wang said. "They are taught that they should endure it. And second, there is no system of social support for women who are victims of domestic violence. When a woman is beaten and goes to the police, the police will say, 'You deal with it.' There is this attitude - 'All women are beaten. Why don't you endure it?'"
  • Michael R. Phillips, the executive director of the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School...said that in the countryside "there is a threefold difference in rates with urban China."



R.P.BenDedek is the pseudonym of the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' ( ), and is a guest columnist at Magic City Morning Star News. An Australian, he currently teaches Conversational English in China.

BenDedek Social Commentaries at Magic City

"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls.

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