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Domestic violence rises over holidays
( 2004-02-03 23:06) (China Daily)

When disabled British scientist Stephen Hawking was reportedly abused by his wife, it drew wider attention to the social issue of domestic violence.

The issue is also apparent in China, with more and more Chinese husbands coming forward and saying they have been abused by their wives at home, both physically and mentally.

The situation became even worse in some areas of the country during the Spring Festival, the most important Chinese occasion for family reunions.

But usually, in a domestic violence incident, the woman is the victim.

In China, domestic violence refers to any abuse or threat between family members, as it is understood in other countries. It includes physical battery and mental abuse.

"When a battered husband showed dozens of bruises on his body, I could not believe that it was his wife who had inflicted them,'' Yu Lixia, director of the Women's Federation on Wangdingdi Street in Tianjin's Nankai District, said yesterday.

Although the Nankai District numbers probably the biggest amount of universities and research centres in Tianjin, the street where Wang Qiang lives is a typical residential area for labourers.

"It is incredible that the husband who is always beaten by his wife as Wang is much taller and stronger than his wife,'' Yu said.

According to Yu, whose federation usually receives complaints from women, the battered husband in this case approached her, saying that all of the abuse is because of his unemployment.

"Their family is supported by the wife, who was hired by a pedlar to look after a booth,'' the women's federation worker said, noting the high expectations and disappointment over her husband's situation resulted in the physical abuse.

"But it cannot definitely prove that women have superior status to men in Chinese families,'' she said.

But situations where wives beat husbands not only occur among blue-collar families, but rather through all demographics nationwide

A Beijing man filed a 10,000-word petition for divorce last year, charging that his wife has a predisposition for violence, often getting pleasure out of biting the couple's child. In a court ruling, the man was granted custody of the child.

A report by the Xinhua News Agency said that during Spring Festival, especially on the second day of the Lunar New Year when husbands traditionally go to the homes of their wives' parents, some wives beat or abused their husbands after returning to their own homes.

"Some of the wives in question are not satisfied with their husbands' financial assistance or gifts to their parents, and some complained that their spouses do not do enough housework,'' the report said.

Apart from physical punishment, many wives insult or slight their husbands, which also falls within the realm of domestic violence, said sources.

A national survey last year revealed that about 10 per cent of victims of domestic violence were men, most of whom were in their 40s and 50s. And urban men are more likely to be beaten by their wives than those in rural areas.

Men are also less likely to report these incidents. When they do, people often give them strange looks and lawyers are puzzled as how to help them.

But most incidents of domestic violence were still carried out by husbands on their wives.

A study released last December by the All-China Women's Federation, showed that nearly half of Chinese people believe it is reasonable for husbands to beat their wives.

When disagreements occur with their spouses, 38.4 per cent of the people surveyed admitted they resorted to violence.

The survey also found that 43.7 per cent of respondents blamed the wives in such cases, saying domestic violence was often due to their unreasonable behaviour.

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