Juanjuan is from Boyang in Jiangxi province, is 52 years old and has no children. Since her marriage in 1993, her husband has continually abused her, both physically and mentally, treating her as little more than a domestic servant for himself and his mother. She wants to divorce him but cannot because her residency permit, or Hukou, would force her to leave Beijing and return to her hometown if she did. Her husband has repeatedly threatened that he will kill her if she attempts to divorce him. Given her choices, Juanjuan has decided she can tolerate the situation. She believes it is her fate to suffer violence for the sins of a previous life and consoles herself that her husband is simply a ‘foolish man’.
Feng Yuan is a Board Member of the China Women’s Research Society. Since the mid-1980s she has been involved in research and activism on women’s rights, gender issues and the development of civil society. She has authored numerous books and articles, and played important roles in; the China Human Development Report, for UNDP Beijing, 1997; the Gender Equality and Women’s Development in China white paper, for the State Council, 2005; the NGO Report on China’s Progress in Implementation of MDG, 2007; and several other gender-equality training manuals. She was also a visiting scholar at Lund University, Sweden in 1998 and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, 2001-02.
Hua is from Tianjin and has two children with her ex-husband. He began beating her with objects after the birth of their first son. She tolerated severe domestic violence in silence for almost twenty years until neighbors were forced to take her to hospital with severe injuries. After several operations she recovered and returned home to tolerate the violence. After the death of her father and father-in-law, which she believes her situation contributed to, she decided to seek justice. Her husband was arrested and sentenced to 4 years after a lengthy and complicated legal procedure at the provincial court. She has since remarried and is happy with her legal success and new life. She now devotes a sizeable amount of her time and energy helping to care for her brother’s family in gratitude for standing by her during the difficult times in her life. She is happy that her children are well educated even though she was deprived of the same opportunity. She teaches those around her to be gentle. She is only sad that her son never married which she blames on the violence of his childhood.
Chen Mingxia, is a member of the experts’ team working on the Chinese marriage law and women’s rights protection laws. Chen Mingxia is a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She graduated from the Law School of the Peking University in 1964. Her research fields are civil law, family law, inheritance law and women’s law. She is interested in legislation on marriage and family law, damage and compensation in marital and family fields, women’s human rights and the enforcement of women’s law.
Xiong Jing is from Wuhan and is 24 years old and moved in Beijing in 2011. She has a degree in Chinese Literature and Science and another in Psychology from the Central China Normal University in Wuhan. She also has an MA in Gender Studies from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She currently works as Program Assistant at Media Monitor for Women’s Network. She also has a great deal of experience as a volunteer.
Fenni is from Xi’an, is 41 years old and moved to Beijing in 2002. Her parents were unconventional people and her childhood was spent living outside mainstream Chinese life. Although she is currently single and has never married, she has faced continual violence in her personal life with different partners turning violent as the relationships developed. Fenni lives on an emotional knife-edge and believes only wisdom, art and friends can help her overcome her pain. She longs to be with someone special and travel together. In 2004, Fenni recorded the album “Beautiful War” with her band, Tripazia. They appeared in the independent American film “Firecrackers” and the independent Chinese film “Waiting Alone.” She has been experimenting with musical improvisation since 2005.
Tao Laiheng is a registered psychological counselor at the Chinese Psychological Society Registry System for Professionals and Professional Organizations in Clinical and Counseling Psychology. He is Honorary Professor at the Department of Social Work at the China Women’s University. He graduated from the Department of Education at Nanjing Normal University. He specializes in psychological counseling for children and adolescences, in family education and parent effectiveness training. In recent years, he has been engaged in the Anti-Domestic Violence in China project and has become an expert at providing psychological counseling to the male perpetrators of violence.
Yichu, a Uygur from Xinjiang, is 32 years old and moved to Beijing in 2006. She has experienced mental abuse from her former girlfriend. In all her personal relationships she feels a kind of ‘cold-mental abuse’ because lesbians are still much oppressed in China and it is often difficult for them to accept their sexual identity. Since experiencing abuse she has worked on developing ways of protecting herself. She has also experienced physical violence from men over her sexuality.
By the time Hui was 12 she had witnessed six years of domestic violence only ending when her mother could no longer tolerate the abuse. Hui is from Shiyan, Hebei and now lives in the Sun Village orphanage on the outskirts of Beijing with many other children whose parents are incarcerated. At present, around 130 children under eighteen years of age reside at the orphanage. To date, Zhang Shuqin, founder and director of the orphanage, has established six Children’s Villages for the children of convicts since 1996.
Yu Rong graduated from the University of Political Sciences and is a legal-education instructor at the Clinic of Peking University Law School and a lawyer at Beijing Zhicheng Law Firm. Although now formally retired, she served as a Senior Judge at Beijing’s Second Intermediate People’s Court for 33 years.
Kim is from Florida, is 40 years old and has three daughters. She moved to China in 1999 to work for the popular education company ‘Crazy English’ after being invited by Li Yang the wealthy founder. They were married in Las Vegas in 2005 and their first daughter was born a few years later. Kim tolerated many incidents of abuse until, on the 31st of August 2011, she began posting photographs of her injuries on Sina Weibo, a popular China micro-blogging platform. On the same day, she decided to escape the violence and asked for a divorce. Kim insisted on fighting for her rights even though she remained disappointed by Chinese law, which failed to protect her for one and a half years. On 3rd of February in 2013, Kim won an important victory. A Beijing court granted the divorce on the ground of domestic violence. Her divorce has become one of the most important legal cases in the history of domestic violence in China. Kim is confident for the future and herself in her role as a mother, teacher and volunteer in training programs for survivors of domestic violence.
Qi Xiaoyu is Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work at China Women’s University and a project leader in urban and community intervention in domestic violence projects. She graduated from the College of Arts and Science at Beijing Union University. Her numerous academic articles covering domestic violence and ways to assist victims can be found in major academic journals. She was one of the first sociologists to focus on the issue of domestic violence as early as 2000.
Xuezhen is from Beijing and is 73 years old. Both she and her husband were from poor families. Her husband has always treated her badly and considers it normal to use physical and mental violence against his wife and children. Her children, now adult, have tried hard to stop their father abusing their mother. He eventually stopped ten years ago, after they had both retired. She is sad that her sons are still haunted by the terrible memories of violence.
Wen Hua has worked for UNFPA China as a Consultant on Gender since 2010. In recent years her work has focused on gender programming, in particular gender-based violence and sex ratio at birth issues. She completed her MPhil degree in Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen in Norway in 2004. She was a visiting fellow at the Gender Research Program at Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2007. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2010. She has published several articles on gender equality in English and Chinese journals.
Tingting Wei is from Guangxi, is 24 years old, moved to Beijing in 2011, and immediately started working against gender and sexual orientation discrimination. She is currently coordinator of the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute. She has in the past worked for different groups advocating the development of women’s rights. She is an activist and participated in the first actions against domestic violence in Beijing. She has a BA in Sociology and a ML in Anthropology from the Wuhan University.
Xi Lin was born in 1980 in Leshan, Sichuan Province. She moved to Beijing in 2002 after graduation and worked as editor for a fashion magazine: ‘I loved the industry until I realized how divorced from reality it was.’ After quitting her job, she started travelling in the hope of finding some meaning to her life. ‘I met many new people hoping that they could help bring meaning to my life. I thought travelling to other countries, experiencing everything new would make me whole, but when I returned to Beijing, I realized only I can give meaning to my life’. As a result she discovered new paths to self-improvement through yoga and artistic performance.
Domestic violence erodes the moral and ethical fiber of society at large. Between a quarter and two thirds of women in China are subject to domestic violence in one form or another, according to the Anti-Domestic Violence Network in China. While domestic violence afflicts the whole of society, and can affect any member of a family, it often targets the most vulnerable; women and children.
Combatting domestic violence is at the heart of gender equality and women empowerment. Despite the fact Taiwan and Hong Kong have enacted laws preventing spousal violence, Mainland China has no national legislation to protect victims of abuse and bring perpetrators to justice yet.
Family issues or intimate relations are normally seen as private matters in China. Patriarchy is deeply rooted in both men and women’s behaviours. At the same time, abused women have limited choices but to endure. How to prevent and respond to domestic violence is still unclear for families, friends and the communities.
[Parched homes] is an attempt bring together women experienced by domestic violence, allowing them to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions in the hope their testimony will help raise awareness of this endemic problem.
[Parched homes] is an attempt to break through the stereotype that Chinese women are passive victims, oblivious to their rights and show, through their courageous stories, that they are willing to stand up and seek a change.
[Parched homes] is an attempt to showcase the work by activists, civil society, international organizations to fight against violence against women in various ways. It advocates for national legislation, and better social structure to prevent and respond to domestic violence in China.