Breaking through: Kim Lee's fight against domestic violence in China
China has always been a country which has operated under entrenched ideologies and limited access to information. Domestic violence was a topic which was barely ever brought up in court, or in public. It was an issue which was widespread, but which was pushed under the carpet, and the women suffering from domestic abuse were not given the chance to voice their feelings openly, leave alone the prospect of getting justice.
But there is a difference between people who are content with knowing what the situation is like, and people who stand up and change things.
Kim Lee had come to China from America to teach English in the country. She met Li Yang in China, who was also a famous English Language teacher, and they got married and taught together. The couple also had three daughters together, but despite everything, Kim Lee could not take the domestic abuse which her husband threw at her on a regular basis. Physical and emotional violence became a regular occurrence till Lee decided to speak out, by taking pictures of herself when she was bruised and battered, and putting them up on the internet. It was a very bold step to take, because these issues were not something which were discussed publicly, and it made many conservative people very uncomfortable. When she went to the police, she would come back feeling like she was in the wrong, somehow. Domestic violence was not taken very seriously, nor were the victims ever given justice.
But in this case, Kim Lee made history by refusing to give in to the antagonism of the police, and by turning a deaf ear to their suggestions of reconciliation. She filed a case against her husband, and soon, this case became a public topic. The issue of domestic violence and the sufferings of all the women who face it, are being talked about in China for the first time. The court too, ruled in favour of Kim Lee, which has been an unprecedented feat. Not only does Li Yang have a restraining order, he will also have to cough up about $2 million for child support, since Lee has the custody of her three children, and he will also have to pay compensation for his abusive habit.
Lee’s case has become a beacon for women all over China to not give up, and to seek justice for their conditions. There are many of them who are getting beaten up on a regular basis, and the sexist ideology which operates here was clear when Yang’s lawyer fought for him by saying that since he was beating up his wife over a reason, it did not count as domestic violence, so much as it was something which happened all the time, and was considered to be right.
The country has awoken to the plight of the battered, beaten, abused women all over, all because of the resilience of one woman who decided not to give up, despite oppositions from all sides. Despite being scorned and ridiculed by strangers and officials, she fought for her due right, and she did not just get justice for herself, but also paved the way for other women in China to stand up against all kinds of domestic violence.