Landmark Case Puts Domestic Violence on the Map in China: An American makes it Happen

Posted by GWEN
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Posted on February 12, 2013

As many news outlets have reported, there has been a first in China — an
American named Kim Lee made legal history when she was granted a divorce on
grounds of domestic violence.

Lee, an American teacher, met her husband, a millionaire Chinese entrepreneur
and founder of English learning program known as Crazy English, while she
was on a research trip to China to study foreign-language teaching practices in
1999. They fell in love, married soon after, and had three children. The couple
was a household name in China and often the center of frenzied crowds and
paparazzi. But in 2011 that image changed into what the Chinese press called “a
folk hero for China’s battered wives,” when Lee uploaded photos of her injuries to
the Web and went public with her abuse. The images showed her face bruised
and puffy, with a bloody ear and a raised bump on her forehead. She was a
victim of domestic abuse, her message explained. In going public about a secret
most families in China have long preferred to keep hidden, Lee bravely started a
conversation and may have set an important precedent.

As reported in The New York Times, the judgment was a victory not only for Lee
and her three daughters, but also for advocates of the rule of law on behalf of
China’s often-silenced victims of domestic violence. “All of society was paying
attention,” Guo Jianmei, a prominent lawyer told the New York Times reporter,
Didi Kirsten Tatlow, after the ruling. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

Widely overlooked, the extent of domestic violence in China is difficult to
measure. Bloomberg News reported that although most officially cited studies
are thought to underestimate its prevalence, in 2011, the All China Women’s
Federation, a state-steered non-governmental organization, released its findings
that 25 percent of women in China have been victims of some form of domestic
violence. A survey by the China Law Society put that number at 35 percent. An
academic study published in 1999 in the International Journal of Gynecology
and Obstetrics found that 16 percent of pregnant woman admitted to the clinic of
Hong Kong’s Tsan Yuk Hospital had suffered domestic abuse in the preceding
year.

Lee took her husband to court and ignited a national conversation about
domestic abuse. The Atlantic reported that on the street she encountered men
who cursed her. In perhaps the clearest sign of what she was confronting, her
husband’s lawyer, Shi Ziyue, disputed that the abuse constituted “domestic
violence” because, he said, “Domestic violence is when a man hits and injures
his wife frequently over a long time but has no reason, but my client did that
because he had conflicts with his wife.”

And yet, Lee found that China’s new social-media networks equipped women
across the country to reach out to her. By last Friday, just before the ruling, Lee
had received more than 1,400 messages of support from strangers. Lee stated
to the New York Times, “It quickly became a matter of the other women and their
stories. No one else was speaking out. I just felt I had to.”

After the verdict, Lee posted a message to the Web: “Believe that there’s light at
the end of the tunnel.”

Sources:

The Atlantic, February 7, 2013

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/
2013/02/can-an-american-woman-stop-domestic-violence-in-china/272954/

The New Yorker, February 5, 2013

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/evanosnos/2013/02/a-landmark-
domestic-violence-case-in-china.html

New Your Times, February 4, 2013

http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/in-chinas-most-watched-
divorce-case-3-victories-1-defeat/

Updated Guidance for Medical Professionals: Screen for Abuse

Posted by GWEN
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Posted on January 25, 2013

A recent article on CNN.com reported that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force
(USTSPF) updated its guidance on domestic violence screening recommending
that all women of childbearing age be screened for abuse, and women who screen
positive should be provided or referred to intervention services.

This comes at a time when roughly one-third of women and one-quarter of men
report experiencing some form of domestic violence, also referred to as inter-
partner violence, during their lifetime. Unfortunately, while these statistics are
alarming, the numbers are almost certainly worse, due to the systematic under-
reporting of abuse.

“We have made significant progress in building the evidence base to effectively
prevent violence against women,” said Dr. Virginia Moyer, chair of the USPSTF, in a
written statement. “We now have the primary care methods and the means to help
prevent violence against women in their reproductive years.”

The task force continued to say “that although abuse of men, abuse of middle-aged
women and abuse and neglect of elderly and vulnerable (physically or mentally
dysfunctional) adults can have equally devastating consequences as violence among
younger women, there is currently not enough evidence about how primary care
clinicians can effectively screen and intervene.”

Principal problems include the lack of standards as to how clinicians should
question patients about abuse; varying definitions of abuse; lack of screening tools,
unclear guidance on who to screen, and what to do if abuse is identified.

The task force also issued a draft statement on primary care interventions to
prevent child abuse.

“The bottom line,” said task force member and pediatrician Dr. David Grossman, “is
that more research is needed on how primary care clinicians can effectively screen
and protect all populations, including older and vulnerable adults, middle-aged
women, men, and children, from abuse and violence.”

Source: CNN.com, Mon January 21, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/21/
health/task-force-violence/index.html

Categories: Domestic Violence, battered women, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual
abuse, articles, verbal abuse, emotional abuse

New Research Shows Strong Link Between Domestic Violence and Mental Health Problems

Posted by GWEN
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Posted on January 13, 2013

KING’S COLLEGE LONDON (UK) — “Mental health professionals need to be
aware of the link between domestic violence and mental health problems, and
ensure that their patients are safe from domestic violence and are treated for the
mental health impact of such abuse,” says Louise Howard, head of the section of
women’s mental health at King’s Institute of Psychiatry.

In this recent study, published last week in PLoS One, researchers at King’s
College London and the University of Bristol reviewed data from 41 studies
worldwide and concluded that people diagnosed with mental illness are more
likely than others to be victims of domestic violence.

“In this study, we found that both men and women with mental health problems
are at an increased risk of domestic violence,” says Howard. “The evidence
suggests that there are two things happening: domestic violence can often lead
to victims developing mental health problems, and people with mental health
problems are more likely to experience domestic violence.”

Previous studies that have made the link between domestic violence and mental
health problems have mainly focused on depression, but this is the first study to
look at a wide range of mental health problems in both men and women.

Howard says.

The study is part of PROVIDE, a five-year research program on domestic
violence funded by the National Institute of Health Research.

Source: King’s College London