A video of a man beating his wife to death on a busy street in China has triggered outrage and raised questions about the prevalence of domestic violence in the country.
According to state media, the incident began with a minor accident in the city of Shuozhou after the married couple accidentally collided with another vehicle while driving an electric scooter.
In the clips that have circulated widely on social media, cyclists, motorists and pedestrians, including children, can be seen watching the street-side attack. Moments later, the woman could be seen lying on the pavement in a pool of blood.
Another video from a different angle shows that there were at least four onlookers who stood by and watched as the man dragged the woman to the ground and struck her repeatedly with a chair.
Police in a statement said that the woman was killed on Saturday morning.
“The suspect is in the custody of public security organs, and the case is being fully investigated,” a police spokesperson told the Reuters news agency.
Media posts about the incident drew tens of thousands of comments, with most criticising the inaction of the bystanders and the lax attitude towards domestic violence in some sectors of Chinese society.
“Shanxi, yesterday – at least 4 people stand around as this man beats his wife. Nobody steps in to stop this ‘marital conflict.’ This is how it starts, but it ends up with the woman being stabbed & killed by her husband. Many people looked on and filmed, yet nobody stopped him,” wrote a social media use while sharing the video.
China only introduced a specific law criminalising domestic violence in 2015. According to a piece published on Amnesty International in 2018, one in four women has experienced domestic violence.
Authorities register some 40,000 to 50,000 complaints a year.
The article goes on to argue that the landmark Domestic Violence Law Act, which came into effect in China in March 2016, has not been effective in curbing such incidents. According to the piece, a progress monitoring report on the law found that there was inadequate support for victims who try to flee abusive homes.
Amnesty reported that in 2016 only 149 persons were admitted to the 2,000 odd shelters set up for victims of domestic violence. This proves that the facilities are woefully inadequate, the rights group argues. Eligibility requirements are harsh, Amnesty says, while regulations at the centres are strict and services are inadequate.
Additional reporting by the agencies