August 06, 2004

"Wife Beating Grows in China as Economy Roars Ahead"

Think domestic violence is a social disease native only to the United States? Think again. I would be very interested in seeing a report sometime in the future comparing and analyzing the similar characteristics between domestic violence in Chinese and American societies. Much could be learned from such a study.

The following are exerpts from this sobering article:

[sic]... tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of Chinese women [are] regularly abused by their husbands or partners, experts say. Wife beating and alarming female suicide rates have been well documented in China's remote, dirt-poor villages.

But experts say young, cosmopolitan women [sic] are increasingly falling victim to domestic violence as they bear the brunt of unprecedented social upheaval sweeping the country, spurred by an economy galloping at more than 9 percent a year.

In a bizarre twist, many women even say their status in society has been eroded as economic reforms unleashed 20 years ago cast aside the last vestiges of Maoism, under which women were famously told they "hold up half the sky."

Wang Simei, said the level of violence in domestic assault cases has increased.

According to a recent survey by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, as many as one-third of women in 270 million households across the country have been victims of domestic violence.

Researchers say surveys often understate the problem because many women are unwilling to "lose face" by admitting, even anonymously, that they have been beaten. In traditional Chinese society, family strife is considered best kept from the public.

Whatever the true number, experts agree domestic violence has become more common as China moves toward a market economy, throwing millions of people out of jobs and ushering in a return to the more traditional values that preceded communist rule.

"Domestic violence has gotten worse," said Ren Yuan, a professor at Shanghai's Fudan University who studies women's issues. "People are more stressed. We all feel this. China is changing very quickly, too fast for social support services and the law."

(NOTE: Emphasis mine, and words in [brackets] were added to maintain contextual flow)

Source: Reuters News Wire
Wed August 04, 2004 02:40 PM ET
Wife Beating Grows in China as Economy Roars Ahead
By Juliana Liu (With additional reporting by Cher Gao)

Posted by Kyer at August 6, 2004 02:14 PM