2021-03-16 10:03:56

A city in eastern China is hoping to curb domestic violence by offering cash rewards to “good Samaritans” who report such cases to the authorities, a policy believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

In a social media post Monday, China Women’s News, the official publication of the state-backed All-China Women’s Federation, said the city of Changzhou in Jiangsu province had adopted a new regulation to pay whistleblowers for reporting cases of domestic violence as well as other criminal acts perpetrated against women and children.

According to the regulation, which was co-issued by Changzhou’s Foundation for Justice and Courage and local women’s federation branch, the good Samaritan will receive a reward once the police confirm their report.

The reward could be anywhere from a few hundred yuan to tens of thousands of yuan, depending on the severity of the case, Lü Zheng, an official at the Changzhou Foundation for Justice and Courage, told Sixth Tone. He added that the regulation is in response to more visible cases of violence against women in recent years, as many people in China are still reluctant to intervene in the personal affairs of others.

When people witness domestic violence, they generally don’t report it. But if we offer them money, they might be more willing to.

“When people witness domestic violence, they generally don’t report it,” said Lü, referring to such cases being traditionally viewed in Chinese society as private, family matters. “But if we offer them money, they might be more willing to report it, and to better look after women and children.”

Since China’s landmark anti-domestic violence law came into effect in 2016, public institutions including schools, hospitals, welfare agencies, and residential committees have been obligated to report all cases of domestic violence happening among their staff or otherwise under their watch to police. However, legal experts say few such cases are actually reported through these institutions, despite — or perhaps because of — the law’s vague threat of punishment.

Zhai Xiufang, chairperson of the Xinyuan Social Work Service Center, which specializes in anti-domestic violence work in the nearby city of Nanjing, told Sixth Tone that cases of people witnessing and reporting domestic violence are rare in China, and for this reason she sees Changzhou’s new policy as a positive move.

“This initiative can raise social awareness of the damage caused by domestic violence and mobilize all of society to participate in eliminating it,” Zhai said. “In our experience, even victims often feel that domestic violence brings shame on their family, so they won’t tell others about it. Meanwhile, their relatives, friends, and neighbors regard it as a family matter. Ultimately, however, failing to act is the same as condoning.”

Online, many have praised Changzhou’s new regulation, suggesting it should be adopted at the national level. Some have said that while it’s helpful to encourage people to report domestic violence, it’s essential to remember that resolving such issues often requires the cooperation of police, who sometimes can’t be bothered to get involved with cases they view as family disputes.

In October of last year, a Tibetan livestreamer known as Lhamo was set on fire by her ex-husband during a live broadcast, prompting a national outcry. Media later reported that the woman, who died from the attack, had repeatedly sought help from the local police, who did little to help her.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: People Visual)