Image credit: James Griffiths.
Well, this is depressing. A survey released on Friday claims that over 50 percent of Chinese men have physically or sexually abused their partners in the past. One in four respondents of a survey of six Asia-Pacific countries also admitted to having raped a woman, and one in 25 said they had taken part in a gang rape.
The findings are part of a multi-country study being carried out by the UN and Partners for Prevention, a non-profit. Researchers interviewed more than 10,000 men and 2,000 women aged 18 to 49 from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.
Speaking at a UN symposium on Gender-based Violence and Research in Beijing, James Lang, program coordinator of Partners for Prevention, called the preliminary findings “shocking”.
“Violence is a complex phenomenon. Much of the research has been focused on women, but when we try to come up with solutions to reduce violence, we have to include men. That’s the whole motivation behind the study,” he said.
Researches in China interviewed more than 2,000 men. Over half of respondents confessed to physically or sexually abusing their wives or girlfriends. More shockingly, 25 percent of respondents said they had raped a woman, and one in 25 admitted to taking part in a gang rape.
The findings are part of a preliminary set of data released by researchers ahead of full publication of the study in July.
Results of a gender-based violence study in China, released on Thursday, found that 52 percent of respondents have committed “an act of domestic violence” against their partners. The Chinese study interviewed around 1,000 men and 1,100 women selected at random in southern China. (Edited to clarify: this is a different study carried out by Chinese researchers, separate from the UN sponsored research quoted above.)
According to the study, women are more at risk of rape from a partner than a stranger. Among women who had been raped, 60 percent had been raped by a partner.
“The widely accepted norms about masculinity are a major driving force for the prevalence of domestic violence against women,” Wang Xiangxian, an associate professor of sociology from Tianjin Normal University who participated in the research, told China Daily.
“It’s pointless to talk about the abstract idea of gender equality if we don’t eliminate the prejudice that is accepted by individuals, communities and even the whole society,” she said.
Writing in Dissent, sociologist Leta Hong Fincher points to how China’s government has dragged its heels on enacting domestic violence legislation:
China in this regard lags behind other developing countries that have serious problems with violence against women, such as India and Bangladesh, which passed an anti-domestic-violence law in 2010.
“Judges almost never define a case as ‘domestic violence’ because the current law in China is not specific or clear enough,” Feng Yuan, a leading activist with the Anti-Domestic Violence Network in Beijing told Hong Fincher. “As a result, the courts routinely refer to domestic violence as ‘family conflict’ instead.”
In February, Kim Lee, the wife of ‘Crazy English’ founder Li Yang scored a victory for victims of domestic violence, when a Beijing court found in her favour, granting her a restraining order against her ex-husband and ordering him to pay 12 million yuan. Li was not prosecuted criminally however for his documented (and admitted) abuse of his wife.
Update 23:00 CST: Our original infographic was based on a misreading of the write up of James Lang’s presentation in the China Daily. The figures quoted from the UN survey refer to all countries in the survey. We have updated the infographic to reflect the statistics for China (which are 50 percent as opposed to 52 percent of men admitting to domestic violence, and 20 as opposed to 25 percent of men admitting to rape).