updated 5 Jul 2010, 19:24
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Fri, Jul 02, 2010
China Daily/ANN
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Cold wars at home has become latest weapon of abuse

In China, people wanting a divorce can get usually one amicably and without resorting to the courts except for complex cases involving disputes over blame or the division of property and custody of children, the courts are the final arbiters.

Out of 311 suits filed in connection with divorces in Fangshan district court last year, only 63 couples ended up going through the full process in court.

A research report issued by the court said that of the 248 remaining cases, 188 cases were withdrawn by couples preferring to resolve their disputes privately or by couples who reconciled.

Of the remaining cases heard by the court, 57 did not end in divorce.

The report said instances of domestic violence in matrimonial disputes are always taken very seriously and all 16 cases that involved violence were heard by the court.

In all 16 cases, the accusers were women suing husbands after they were beaten, verbally abused, restricted of personal freedom and subjected to other abuses.

One case was that of a 45-year-old woman surnamed Dong who lived in a village in Fangshan district and who had married a man named Gao in 1984. She told the court she had suffered from domestic violence ever since her marriage, adding that Gao was bad-tempered and often beat her, especially after he had been drinking.

"In 2008, he beat me again with a crabstick and I was badly hurt and had to have a kidney removed," said Dong.

"He just ignored me when I was in hospital and was even verbally abusive."

Cold wars at home as mental cruelty has become latest weapon of abuse

She said the time was right to break free.

"My son is working and I was not worried about his personal growth any more," she said.

"It was high time I thought about myself after so many years of torture."

According to the report, it can be difficult to find evidence of domestic violence because plaintiffs often take the matter to court some time after incidents happened.

In addition to "hot violence", the courts are also seeing more instances of "cold violence", or mental cruelty, than ever before, especially in families with better educational backgrounds.

A 33-year-old woman named Xu, who was a sales manager with a foreign company in Chaoyang district, was divorced earlier this year after telling the court she had spent the entire Spring Festival with her husband and they had not said a word to one another. She said they had been having a "Cold War" for three months.

"I could not bear it any more, otherwise I would go mad and kill him one day," she said.

"Many times, I have thought about getting divorced but I drew back because I did not want to lose face and I thought about my son and my parents," she added.

"But my parents both passed away this year and my son is now entering senior school," she added.

Kong Xaingfeng, a judge in Fangshan district court, said cold violence is more likely to happen among civil servants and office workers who are not so dependent on family.

"In order to take care of personal dignity, they often try to suppress a divorce," said Kong. "Thus, many families with cold violence may even be maintained for many years with both husbands and wives living in a painful and uncomfortable way."

According to a survey by the China Law Society, 65 percent of husbands in China have ignored their wives, Xinhua News Agency reported.

"It is by no means accidental that we are seeing more cold violence," said Lu Chunjuan, a lawyer who specializes in martial law.

"With the improvements in society, domestic conflicts are more likely to be spiritual oppression instead of low-level physical abuse. And this kind of domestic violence is more easily concealed."

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