In March 2013, the State Council of China updated the China National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Women and Children (2008-2012). The stipulated goal for this national plan is to reduce the occurrence of human trafficking and to improve the network to prevent human trafficking crimes. This national plan provides guiding opinions on various topics relevant to human trafficking, including but not limited to, cracking down on prostitution, increasing support for rural populations in low-income areas, guaranteeing nine-year compulsory education for all school-age children and adolescents, improving the protection mechanism for homeless minors, encouraging rural women to work, and encouraging the following people to find employment: people with disabilities, urban unemployed women, female college students and abducted women and trafficking victims who have been rescued.
Women and Justice: Location
The Provisions were adopted to implement the basic national policy of family planning, i.e. the “one-child policy” and to keep the sex ratio of the birth population within the normal range. Article 3 prohibits identifying the sex of the fetus for non-medical needs and to manually terminate the pregnancy because of the gender of the fetus, except for approval from the health administrative department or the family planning administrative department. Article 7 provides that if it is necessary for non-medical needs to terminate mid-term pregnancy (more than 14 weeks), an approval and corresponding certificate must be obtained from the family planning administrative department of the county-level people’s government, the sub-district office or the township people’s government. Article 7 further provides that if the fertility service certificate has been obtained and the pregnancy is terminated, the involved person shall be disciplined and educated by the family planning administrative department of the township people’s government, the sub-district office, or the county-level people’s government. The application for another birth shall not be approved until the facts are confirmed.
The Law on Population and Family Planning was adopted by the National People’s Congress on December 29, 2001 and amended on December 27, 2015. This law stipulated the national policy popularly known as the “one-child” policy. It was amended in 2015 to allow and encourage each couple to have two children. Before the amendment, Article 18 provided that the State encourages citizens to marry and bear a child at a later age, and advocates one child for each couple, except in certain conditions prescribed by laws and regulations. As a result of the amendment, Article 18 provides that the State encourages citizens to have two children. Before the amendment, Article 27 provided that couples who bear only one child voluntarily shall be issued the Honor Certificate and enjoy the awards for parents of only one child. Article 41 provides that a citizen who bears children in violation of Article 18 shall pay the social upbringing fines according to law.
The Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests was adopted by the National People’s Congress on April 3, 1999 and amended on August 28, 2005. This Law stipulates that women have equal rights with men “in all aspects of political, economic, cultural, social and family life.” It also establishes the State’s responsibility to prevent domestic violence. Article 1 provides that “this Law is formulated to protect women’s lawful rights and interests, promote equality between men and women and allow full pay to women’s role in socialist modernization.” Article 7 provides that “[t]he All-China Women’s Federation and women’s federations at various levels shall, in accordance with the laws and charter of the All-China Women’s Federation,” uphold women’s rights and protect the rights and interests of women. Article 12 provides that the State shall “actively train and select female cadres” and “pay attention to the training and selection of female cadres of minority nationalities.” Article 23 provides that “[w]ith the exception of the special types of work or post unsuitable to women, no unit may, in employing staff and workers, refuse to employ women because of sex or raise the employment standards for women.” Article 23 also provides that “[t]he labor (employment) contract or service agreement shall not contain restrictions on her matrimony and child-bearing.” Articles 24 and 25 stipulate equal pay and equal opportunity for promotion for men and women. Article 26 provides that all units shall “protect women’s safety and health during their work or physical labor, and shall not assign them any work or physical labor not suitable to women,” and that “[w]omen shall be under special protection during menstrual period, pregnancy, obstetrical period and nursing period.” Article 27 provides that “[n]o entity may, for the reason of matrimony, pregnancy, maternity leave or breast-feeding, decrease a female employee’s wage, dismiss her or unilaterally terminate the labor (employment) contract or service agreement.” Article 45 prohibits husbands from applying for a divorce “within one year after childbearing or within 6 months after termination of pregnancy” of a woman. Article 46 prohibits domestic violence. Article 51 provides that “[w]omen have the right to child-bearing in accordance with relevant regulations of the state as well as the freedom not to bear any child.”
The Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China was adopted by the National People’s Congress on September 10, 1980 and amended on April 28, 2001. Article 2 provides that the marriage system is “based on the free choice of partners, on monogamy and on equality between man and woman.” Article 3 prohibits interference by a third party, mercenary marriage and exaction of money or gifts in connection with marriage. Article 6 provides the minimal marriage age is twenty-two for men and twenty for women. Article 13 provides that husband and wife shall have equal status in the family. Article 34 provides that “a husband may not apply for a divorce when his wife is pregnant, or within one year after the birth of the child, or within six months after the termination of her gestation.” Article 43 provides that neighborhood committee, villagers committee or the unit to which the family belongs have an obligation to deter domestic violence. English version available here.
 “Unit” is a term of art with strong communist connotations, which refers to the company/organization/group to which a person belongs.
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China was adopted by the National People’s Congress and promulgated for implementation on December 4, 1982. It has been amended several times, with the most recent amendment occurring on March 14, 2004. Article 48 provides that women and men have equal rights. It states that “[w]omen in the People’s Republic of China enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life, in political, economic, cultural, social and family life. The State protects the rights and interests of women, applies the principle of equal pay for equal work to men and women alike and trains and selects cadres from among women.” Article 49, moreover, provides that “violation of the freedom of marriage is prohibited. Maltreatment of old people, women and children is prohibited.” English version available here.
The appellant-wife appealed to the Intermediate People’s Court of Wuxi Municipality, Jiangsu Province in relation to the lower court’s refusal to grant a divorce. The appellant alleged that her marriage with the appellee was irreparably broken and that he had committed domestic violence against her. The appellant alleged that the domestic violence was corroborated by their daughter’s testimony and photographic evidence. The court held that even though the appellee might have beaten the appellant on at least one occasion, under the legal definition, domestic violence must constitute continuous multiple-time battery rather than [one occasional] conduct. Since the evidence submitted by the appellant was insufficient to demonstrate that the appellee’s conduct caused harmful consequences to the appellant, the court refused to grant their divorce. The court also admonished the appellee to fulfill his responsibility as a husband and to stop his "bad habits."
 Note to draft: This concept is unclear. The exact translation of the Mandarin phrase would be “one occasional conduct.” From the context of the opinion, it appears that this means that occasional conduct, even if more than once, may not be sufficient if it is not indicative of a pattern of abuse.
The plaintiff sued the defendants for infringing on her equal employment rights. The plaintiff alleged that the job description for the courier position included: “Eligibility: Men.” When Deng went for an interview, she was advised that “we never have women couriers.” She was subsequently informed that Beijing Postal could not authorize an employment contract for her because she is female. The plaintiff requested relief of, among other things, an official apology and 50,000 Chinese yuan as compensation of for mental distress. The court of first instance held that the defendants infringed upon the plaintiff’s right of employment equality under the People’s Republic of China’s Employment Law. The Court also rejected the defendants’ argument that the courier position fit within the statutory exceptions under “Special Regulations on Protection of Female Workers,” which prohibits female workers from working in certain fields involving heavy manual labor. The Court of first instance awarded 2,000 Chinese yuan as compensation for mental distress but denied the request for an official apology. Both the plaintiff and defendants appealed. The Intermediate People’s Court affirmed the lower court’s determination that a courier does not fit within the statutory exceptions for positions “unsuitable for women.” The court also held that compensation of 2,000 Chinese yuan was commensurate with the damages suffered by the plaintiff, and that there was insufficient ground to require an official apology from the defendants to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff sued the defendants for infringing upon her right to employment equality. The plaintiff alleged that the online advertisement posted by the defendants, to which Liang responded, required kitchen apprentices to be “men between the ages of 18 and 25.” The plaintiff further alleged that when she went to the restaurant, the receptionist informed her of the restaurant’s policy that “all employees in the kitchen should be men, even if a woman possesses the qualifications of a chef.” The plaintiff alleged that the defendants’ behavior violates Articles XII and XIII of the People’s Republic of China’s Employment Law, which provide that potential employees should not be discriminated against on the bases of ethnicity, race, sex, and religious beliefs. As relief, the plaintiff requested (1) an official apology from the defendants; (2) 21 Chinese yuan in damages for costs incurred by responding to the advertisement; and (3) 40,800 Chinese yuan in damages for emotional distress. The court of first instance held that the defendants’ actions constituted gender-based discrimination against the plaintiff. However, it found insufficient evidence for the plaintiff’s emotional distress and awarded 2,000 Chinese yuan in damages. It also denied Liang’s request for an official apology. Both the plaintiff and defendants appealed. Relying on the explicit requirement in the advertisement and the receptionist’s explanations that the candidate be a man, the Intermediate People’s Court held that the defendants’ exclusion based on the plaintiff’s gender was unlawful and unreasonable and constituted gender-based employment discrimination. With respect to relief, the Intermediate People’s Court held that under the Supreme People’s Court’s interpretations, emotional distress normally should not be compensated in monetary terms unless there are severe consequences. The Intermediate People’s Court held that compensation of 2,000 Chinese yuan was within the discretion of the lower court, and thus upheld the amount. The Intermediate People’s Court, however ordered the defendants to issue an official apology to the plaintiff in newspapers in the Guangzhou area.
On May 20, 2014, the defendant used a hammer to strike her husband’s head three times. She then asked her son to send her husband to hospital where he died. The Court found that throughout their marriage, the deceased often beat and abused the defendant. The day before the incident, the deceased beat the defendant for a long period of time. At approximately 5:30 AM the following day, the defendant, due to the history of abuse, decided to kill her husband. During the trial, multiple witnesses testified to the deceased’s long history of domestic violence. A letter signed by more than 100 people, including close relatives of the deceased, also confirmed that he had abused the defendant over a long period of time. The Court held that the defendant’s conduct qualified as murder. However, because her motive was her husband’s long history of domestic violence, the victim himself was also culpable. Because the defendant had little possibility of recidivism and because there was strong public sympathy for the defendant, the court sentenced her to four years imprisonment. She was due to be released on May 21, 2018. On August 29, 2017, Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court ordered her release on parole.
Yang sued China PLA Hospital No. 458 for violation of his reproductive rights. The plaintiff alleged that his wife sought an abortion at the defendant-hospital and lied that she was unmarried. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant did not meet its obligation to investigate Peng’s marital status and chose to believe Peng’s lie. The Court held that under Article 51 of the Law on Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests, “women have the right to reproduce and not to reproduce under the relevant state regulations.” Therefore, Peng’s right to voluntarily terminate pregnancy is protected by law. Moreover, according to the Supreme People’s Court’s authoritative interpretations of the Marriage Law, “courts should not support husbands’ damage claims based on infringement of their reproductive rights due to their wives’ termination of pregnancy.” Therefore, the defendant’s actions were not unlawful.
Liu and Zhang held the wedding ceremony in 2009 and registered for marriage in 2011. In order to marry Liu, Zhang paid a “bride price” of 96,080 Chinese yuan, and Liu’s dowry included a television, refrigerator, washing machine and several pieces of furniture. Liu filed for divorce in 2013, and Zhang requested Liu to return part or all of the bride price. The court found that the bride price was paid for the purpose of marrying Liu, and its payment led to difficulty in Zhang’s parents’ life after Zhang’s marriage. Thus, the court held that Liu was required to return a portion of the bride price. Considering the length of Zhang and Liu’s marriage and their standard of living during that time, the Court ordered Liu to return 32,000 Chinese yuan of the bride price. Moreover, the court found that Liu’s dowry was Liu’s personal property and Zhang had no interest therein. Available here.
The appellant and the deceased were divorced in 2007 but continued to live as a married couple until the incident. The appellant had a history of physical abuse. On the day of the incident, the appellant again beat the deceased with a leather belt, causing her to commit suicide. On the same day, the appellant turned himself in. The lower People’s Court held that the appellant had continuously beaten the deceased, causing her to endure physical and mental damage and commit suicide, and his actions constituted the crime of abuse. The appellant was sentenced to five years of imprisonment. Upon appeal, the Intermediate People’s Court upheld the conviction and affirmed the decision.
The lower court convicted the appellant of intentional assault and sentenced her to life imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for life for stabbing her cohabiting boyfriend to death. The lower court held that the defendant’s motive, frivolous arguments, constituted a crime of intentional assault. The lower court found that the consequence of the crime was serious and that the defendant should receive a severe punishment. On appeal, the Higher People’s Court of Sichuan Province reversed the lower court’s holding, finding that (1) the appellant turned herself in and obtained forgiveness from relatives of the deceased; (2) on the day of incident, the victim had attacked the appellant first, and should bear certain responsibility. Thus, the High People’s Court reversed the lower court’s ruling and reduced the sentence to 15 years in prison and deprivation of political rights for three years. Available here.
The defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for stabbing his wife (Cui) and mother-in-law (Zhao) to death, which was upheld by the Supreme People’s Court. Cui had previously filed for divorce. On October 4, 2012, the defendant got into an argument with Zhao and Cui. The defendant chased Zhao out of the house and stabbed her to death. The defendant then caught up with Cui, who had run to a neighbor’s house for help, and stabbed her to death. The Supreme People’s Court affirmed the lower courts’ finding that the defendant was guilty of unlawfully depriving others of their lives, which constituted intentional homicide. The Supreme People’s Court upheld the death penalty, holding that the defendant’s killing method was cruel and the consequences were particularly serious, and thus the death penalty was the appropriate sentence according to the law.
The defendant Wang “bought” a woman with intellectual disabilities, Yang, for RMB 10,000 to have a male heir. Wang chained Yang’s feet and hands and raped Yang several times. The imprisonment and rape lasted for 2 months until police rescued Yang. Quning District Court, Jiangsu Province found that defendant Wang trafficked the woman, imprisoned, and raped her. Therefore, according to Article 236 section 1 and Article 238 section 1 and Article 240 of Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, Wang was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.
The defendants Yang and Li trafficked 17 Vietnamese women who were prostitutes in Vietnam to Yunnan Province, China. Yang and Li pretended to be clients and brought the women to hotels and restaurants where they kidnapped the women and transported them to China. The defendants offered the women to villagers in remote rural area of Yunnan Province, China and forced the women to marry buyers by force or threats. Under Article 48 and Article 240 of Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, the two defendants were sentenced to the death penalty and their private property was confiscated by the court. The women were provided with assistance to return to Vietnam.
In 2013, a teenage girl name Lin gathered two other girls to get revenge on Chen, another girl at Guangze senior high school, Fujian Province, for insulting her. Chen hid and so their plan for revenge was unsuccessful. Later that day, Lin asked someone else to take Chen to a quiet neighborhood. Lin and her friend slapped Chen’s face, broke her nose, pulled her hair, and made Chen take off all her clothes. Chen was too frightened to say no and took off all her clothes. Lin and her friend took pictures of the naked Chen and shared the photos. Guangzhe District Court found that Lin and her friends assaulted the victim Chen. According to Article 237, Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China Lin and her friend were convicted of humiliating a woman with force and coercion. Lin was sentenced to two-years’ imprisonment, with a full suspension of the sentence. Lin’s friend, Lou, was sentenced to one-year jail time with a full suspension of the sentence. The court said that because both the defendants and the victim were under age of 18, and because the defendants were willing to cooperate with the police, tell the truth, and plead guilty, the court under Article 63, Article 67, Article72, and Article 73 of Criminal Law of People’s Republic of China to give the two defendants a mitigated punishment of community service. The court demanded that the defendants delete all the naked photos of the victim. After the crime, the defendants’ families compensated the victim and the victim forgave the defendants.