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China drafts first domestic violence law
The new law, published Tuesday, formally defines domestic violence for the first time and also streamlines the process for obtaining restraining orders - measures that anti-domestic abuse groups have advocated for years. "Over the years, we've many times felt powerless ourselves to help victims," said Hou Zhiming, a veteran women's rights advocate who heads the Maple Women's Psychological Counselling Centre in Beijing. "At the very least, there's finally movement on this law," she said. In 2001 the marriage law was amended to explicitly ban domestic violence for the first time. Currently little protection is available if a partner threatens violence against a victim who tries to leave, advocates note, as restraining orders are rarely issued in China and shelters are nearly non-existent. Courts must rule on restraining order requests within 48 hours, according to the draft law - but if one is granted, the victim must start a lawsuit within 30 days or it will lapse. The draft law stipulates that police must respond to reports of domestic violence and that schools, hospitals and other institutions may face "Serious consequences" for failing to report cases to the authorities. Nearly 40 percent of Chinese women who are married or in a relationship have experienced physical or sexual violence, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported Wednesday, citing new figures from the All China Women's Federation.

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