More Accessible Protection for Domestic Violence Victims: New Developments in Personal Safety Protection Order
Created on:2023-04-04 15:04 PV:780
By Zhou Shizun | China Law Update | 15 Tsinghua China L. Rev. 161 (2022)   |   Download Full Article PDF

It is generally believed that the personal safety protection order (“order”, “protection order”) system was first established by the United States in the late 1970s. At present, more than 120 countries which have designated laws against domestic violence have established this system to offer timely protection for domestic violence victims.

Personal safety protection order, also known as “restraining order”, was first introduced in mainland China by the Anti-domestic Violence Law (“AVL”) in 2016. The AVL stipulates that a personal safety protection order may prohibit the respondent from committing domestic violence; harassing, stalking, or contacting the petitioner and the relevant close relatives thereof; and order the respondent to move out of the petitioner’s residence, etc. Statistics from the Supreme People’s Court show that by December 31, 2021, courts nationwide had issued 10,917 protection orders.

Over the past seven years, although the protection order system has indeed played an active role in protecting the victims of domestic violence, there are some unsatisfactory aspects of it. For instance, the threshold for the issuance of a protection order is rather high; the definition of “domestic violence” is vague; the duties and responsibilities of relevant authorities in the implementation of the protection order system are rather unclear.

To strengthen the protection for domestic violence victims, in 2022, the Supreme People’s Court and other authorities issued two legal instruments on the protection order system in concert with other authorities. These two documents were both drafted based on a petitioner-friendly principle with a focus on the protection of domestic violence victims.

On 5 March 2022, the Supreme People’s Court and six other relevant authorities jointly issued the Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court, the All-China Women’s Federation, the Ministry of Education and Other Departments on Strengthening the Implementation of the Personal Safety Protection Order System (“Opinions”). On 14 July