Guangdong classifies child witnesses of domestic violence as victims

By Chen Shasha Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/30 21:16:35

Photo: IC

South China's Guangdong Province will begin classifying minors that witness domestic violence as victims of the action, according to the province's preventative measures related to the national anti-domestic violence law.

It will encourage family members to remember the psychological impacts and rights of minors in situations that involve domestic violence, Wang Biaochen, lawyer and head of the rights protection center with the Guangdong Women's Federation, who was also involved in the drafting of the measures, told the Global Times.

In practice, it will protect young people that witness violence from harm by the offender before the dispute is solved, and improve the chances that the child will be raised by a non-violent family member, Wang said.

Exposure to family violence in childhood, no matter a direct victim or witness, results in lifelong psychological trauma, Ji Minglü, a senior psychologist and director-general of Shanghai Perfection Youth Development Service Center, told the Global Times. 

"They could be indifferent or feel inferior, lonely, scared and helpless, and are prone to committing violence in the future themselves," Ji said. "They may feel less secure or likely to be sex offenders or victims of sexual crimes. Some victims have difficulties maintaining good relations with friends or partners."

Timely psychological and social support should be given to the victims, especially those who are minors, after domestic violence occurs, Ji said.

The ruling has garnered wide support from Chinese netizens. Many shared on social media their own traumatic childhood experiences and suggested the rule should be applied nationwide.

"I witnessed domestic violence as a child. I am 26 now, and I often dream of the dreadful scenes that I used to experience," one netizen said. "It takes a whole lifetime for someone to heal from what they suffered at childhood."

Wang Jing, a 30-year-old woman from Shaanxi Province, told the Global Times that she saw her father beat her mother since her early childhood, and believes it has given her a complicated attitude toward marriage.

"I didn't want to get married, and still felt insecure after I married," she said. "I hope children with similar experiences could get more support to help relieve them of their painful memories."

The measures have already been approved by the legislative body of Guangdong Province and will take effect on October 1, the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Metropolis Daily reported on Thursday.

It will classify actions such as offences committed through the internet, stalking, and spreading of private information as domestic violence.

It asks the public security organs to include family violence reports in their work and send authorities to solve domestic violence cases as soon as they are reported. It also says that every department and individual is required to stop domestic violence and report such cases to the police to protect victims from further damage.

"Chinese families often tend to hide such violence from others. We want to make sure that people know that domestic violence is never a family affair," Wang said, adding the measures will provide a legal basis for everyone to stop instances of domestic violence.  

A survey conducted in 2015 by the All-China Women's Federation showed that roughly 30 percent of China's 270 million families experienced domestic violence in some form. Based on an average of one child per family, nearly 90 million children in China have witnessed violence among their family members, according to a report by

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