Domestic violence against women is high on the agenda after Kim Lee, the US wife of celebrity Li Yang, won her divorce in a Beijing court. But other women have it way tougher, author Zhang Lijia writes in The Guardian, and strengthening of domestic violence laws is urgently needed.
The victory [by Kim Lee] served as a morale boost to women’s rights advocates who had been dismayed by the fate of Li Yan, a Sichuan woman who was convincted of killing her husband after he had subjected her to months of violent abuse. She is facing the death penalty, with her execution likely to happen in the next few days. Last week, more than 100 lawyers and scholars petitioned to commute her death sentence.
Yan’s unfair treatment made my blood boil. Even though she had repeatedly sought help, turning to the neighbourhood branches of All China Women’s Federation, her complaints were brushed aside as “private family matters” – a common reaction in China. When Yan turned to the police with pictures of her injuries and sustained cigarette burns, she was told this was not sufficient, because the pictures had been taken by family or friends.
Yan might have over-reacted when trying to defend herself as her husband flew into yet another fit of rage, an airgun in his hand. But she absolutely doesn’t deserve to die. If the Chinese authorities are half as serious about combating domestic violence as they claim to be, how could they so cruelly punish a woman who was let down by a system supposedly in place to protect her?
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