Our working group model inspired a community of mainstream Chinese lawyers to take action on domestic violence and the sexual abuse of children. Several lawyers went on to found their own specialist law firms to focus on women and children's rights issues.

From 2013-2016, we worked closely with a Beijing women's legal counseling centre to challenge some 40 largely mainstream Chinese lawyers, both women and men, to engage in more public interest work. Building on new insights into gender, participants identified three issues of concern: domestic violence, the marital property rights of women, and the sexual abuse of children.  Forming working groups the lawyers conducted research into the law and practice and represented a number of cases. Their firsthand experience gave them the confidence to make informed policy recommendations to the government. 

The anti-domestic violence group took on several high-profile cases to highlight shortcomings in the protection of victims of domestic violence, including the need for personal protection orders and more effective community assistance.  In 2015, the group helped with the case of Li Yan. Subjected to years of abuse from her violent husband and receiving no help from the police or Women's Federation, Li Yan killed him in self-defense. At a retrial Li Yan's death sentence was suspended and the case helped raise public awareness of the impact of abusive relationships. 

The group also made several important recommendations to the draft Anti-domestic Violence Law as well as to the Supreme Court's Implementing Regulations.The lawyers were particularly concerned with the implementation of personal protection orders and represented a number of cases as the new law went into effect on March 1, 2016.

The end of the project saw several of the participants go on to found their own specialist firms and the groups focused on combatting domestic violence and the sexual abuse of children have stayed together and continued their work. 

Previous page image by sung ming whang