Eliminating Domestic Violence

According to article 5 of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, States parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in matters such as gender stereotypes, customs and perceptions of inferiority and inferiority. "Zero domestic violence" is a vision that we have been always looking forward to. Hence, we have set up the women’s helpline, as well as free legal consultation and divorce support services, providing urgent and pertinent support to victims.

hidden DV

Hidden Domestic Violence Problems Ignored

At present, the statistics of domestic violence cases vary among government departments. According to the Social Welfare Department, there were 4,082 cases of violence against children, spouses, and cohabitants in 2021 (1,367 cases of violence against children and 2,715 cases of violence against spouses and couples), a significant increase from 3,541 cases in 2020 (940 cases of violence against children and 2,601 cases of violence against spouses and couples). Among them, 85% of the victims were female.


However, the police currently classify "domestic conflict cases" into "domestic violence (criminal)", "domestic violence (miscellaneous)" and "domestic incidents" according to their severity, and only classify the first two as domestic violence incidents. According to the information from the Legislative Council meetings in 2017 and 2021, nearly 85% of the police cases were classified as "domestic incidents" of lower severity, thus significantly reducing the number of domestic violence cases and ignoring mental abuse or lower level of physical violence. According to the data provided by the police in 2021, there were 1,196 criminal cases of domestic violence, reflecting that many of these cases are still being ignored.


In addition, many victims said that when they reported to the police for help, they were not given clear explanations or assistance by law enforcement officers. For example, the police officers failed to inform reporting procedure, failed to issue a "domestic violence incident notification" to the suspect according to the procedural guidelines, and failed to provide the victim with a "family assistance service information card", etc. As a result, the relevant cases became hidden domestic violence cases and the victims could not receive the help they need.


Difficulty in Proving Evidence

Between 2011 and 2020, our Women's Helpline Service received over 13,000 new calls for help, of which 1,100 involved domestic violence. During the epidemic, the number of domestic violence cases increased significantly, with 34 cases of domestic violence-related requests received from January to March 2020 alone, more than double the 16 cases received during the same period in the past. More than 70% of the victims who called the hotline had faced physical violence, 47% were involved in mental abuse, and 20% were treated with both types of violence. It is also worth noting that 74% of the victims indicated that they had experienced domestic violence more than once, reflecting that domestic violence is still serious. Moreover, from the service figures, it is found that the abusers of domestic violence cases during the epidemic were not prosecuted and convicted, and 94% of the abusers did not participate in counseling programs.


According to the service figures in early 2020, 81% of victims were not offered medical examinations and 75% of victims were not offered counseling. In addition, cases involving hidden domestic violence require the victims to provide evidence, which is difficult, especially in cases of psychological abuse. For divorced women, those who are not financially independent, and those with low education levels, it is difficult to go through the cumbersome legal process and bear the heavy litigation costs to stop their ex-spouse's annoying behavior, which causes psychological and mental distress to them.


Review Existing System and Guideline to Strengthen the Support

The government will legislate on the offense of "no-protection" and compulsory child abuse mechanism in the future. We agree that the community should strengthen the protection of children and the needy community by early identification and support to reduce the occurrence of violence. However, we have reservations about the implementation and enforcement of the legislation. The legislation only has limited effectiveness due to the lack of clear definitions of the terms in the legislation and the lack of awareness of child abuse and gender in the community and the judiciary.


We believe that the relevant provisions should be carefully studied to clearly define the wording in the legislation, or to provide easy-to-understand examples and explanations so that the public can also grasp the content of the legislation. The government should provide adequate support and community education to enable the public to understand the offense of "no protection" and the mechanism of compulsory child abuse, so that early intervention can be made in high-risk cases. Also, the industry should continue with the "Protecting Children from Maltreatment-Procedural Guide for Multi-Disciplinary Co-operation" to identify urgent cases, manage family crises, and intervene in abuse cases as early as possible.

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Our Advocacy

  • With reference to the "Guidelines on Medical and Legal Support for Sexual Violence Victims" issued by the World Health Organization, a one-stop crisis support center should be set up in hospitals to meet the medical, judicial, and social service needs of victims
  • Review the existing guidelines and case classification system for sexual and intimate partner violence, and strengthen the training of frontline law enforcement officers, legal professionals, and social service workers on assisting women who are victims of violence, so that women can receive appropriate support more promptly
  • Enhance the mobility of domestic-violence-related services and case information sharing, such as improving the help mechanism, strengthening the connection of social service organizations, enhancing the hotline services, and providing more ways to seek help
  • Provide accommodation options, allocate extra resources to shelters and women's organizations, and subsidize domestic violence victims to rent hotels for transition
  • Establish an emergency support fund to help women or their families meet living expenses, crisis situations, or emergency housing expenses, and to provide housing support for women, including subsidizing the use of alternative accommodation as a refuge, relaxing the application for compassionate sub-tenancy, to help women leave their abusers
  • Foster the modernization of family courts and the expansion of video and online services to family courts to speed up case processing and reduce the impact on case families
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Our Actions

  • Set up a "Anti-Domestic Violence Education Group" to promote the concept of ZERO Domestic Violence in community
  • Lobby the community, compile policy responses and position papers, including responses to proposed policies, policy research reports, public opinion surveys, CEDAW shadow reports, etc
  • Organize community events for public education and advocacy, such as Human Library, Press Conference and so on to raise public awareness on violence-related issues

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