China’s first database to let couples check domestic abuse history before marriage

Society & Culture

The eastern city of Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, has become the first Chinese city to roll out a program that allows soon-to-be married couples to check, before tying the knot, if their partners have a history of domestic violence.

The eastern city of Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, has become the first Chinese city to roll out a program that allows soon-to-be married couples to check, before tying the knot, if their partners have a history of domestic violence.

The initiative, announced on June 22, is an effort to “prevent and reduce domestic abuse” and create more “harmonious families” in the city, according to The Paper (in Chinese). A total of six government departments took part in its creation, including the local branch of the All-China Women’s Federation and Yiwu’s information office.

The database includes data from nationwide offenses, and offenders who are not from Yiwu are all included. It contains up-to-date information regarding all offenders who have been criminalized or detained by police for domestic abuse since 2017.

To prevent the program from being abused and protect people’s privacy, the local government requires individuals hoping to use the service to sign a confidentiality agreement and provide information to prove their relationships are real. Meanwhile, individuals are entitled to use the system no more than twice a year and search no more than two partners each year.

The program is part of a citywide initiative launched by Yiwu this year to “revamp its measures to combat domestic violence.” In order to create a more “comprehensive and efficient system” to address the problem, the local government looks to standardize police’s response to incidents of domestic violence and carry out prevention programs in communities.

On Chinese social media, feedback on the new program has been overwhelmingly positive, with many people calling on other Chinese cities to follow suit. “I wholeheartedly support this program. It needs to be expanded across the country!” a Weibo user commented.

When China passed its first law against domestic violence in 2016, it was widely praised as a landmark achievement for women’s rights activists and victims of family abuse in the country. Since then, domestic violence has become a more visible issue in China, largely owing to a slew of brave women who have taken to social media to expose their abusive partners and share their stories. However, the idea that domestic violence is a private rather than a public matter still exists, which means both police and citizens tend to avoid discussing it. Almost no significant strides have been made on the legal front to help victims of abuse.