START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
1,438,132 people care about Women's Rights

Abused Woman Makes China Stand Up and Pay Attention

Abused Woman Makes China Stand Up and Pay Attention

Kim Lee (not pictured) had had enough. After struggling in secret with the domestic abuse inflicted upon her by her celebrity husband Li Yang, she went public in 2011, posting graphic pictures of her injuries on a Chinese social network. The American woman dared to do something that few women in China would: going public with what was considered a deeply private matter. Just days ago, she finally won her suit in a divorce case, separating from her husband on the grounds of domestic violence, receiving custody of their three children and getting the titles to numerous properties along with a compensation payment for the pain and suffering she had experienced.

The case of Kim Lee isn’t just that of a single woman who escaped an abusive relationship, though. It highlights a huge issue in China that primarily flies under the radar because everyone is acculturated to refuse to talk about it: domestic violence. Kim Lee’s case became huge news in part because she was American and because her husband and his “Crazy English” instructional program are a household name in China, but also because when the authorities refused to help her, she fought back with the power of social media, sparking a national conversation not just about her abuse, but also about domestic violence in China in general.

This isn’t the only high-profile domestic violence case attracting headlines in China and beyond at the moment. Eyes are also turned to Li Yan, a woman sentenced to death for killing her husband after experiencing months of violence. Despite requesting help and providing photographic evidence of her husband’s crimes, she was left to fend for herself — until the day her husband approached her with an air gun and she fought back. Gallingly, the courts refused lenience in her case even though it was clear there were extenuating circumstances.

Kim Lee’s bold decision to post  pictures of herself went against the considerable weight of tradition in China, where domestic violence is considered a matter to be handled at home, not dealt with in public. Her own husband accused her of airing dirty laundry, and while he freely admitted to hitting her, he didn’t seem to think this was a problem, let alone an issue that might merit further attention from the authorities or grounds for a divorce. Women in China felt differently, spreading Lee’s images and stories like wildfire across social media and calling upon each other to rise up, while excoriating Li Yang for his abusive treatment of his wife.

Lee won her case because she was educated and dedicated when it came to pursuing justice, and being American certainly didn’t hurt. But what about Chinese women struggling with domestic violence in their own homes who don’t have access to her resources? Advocates are calling for better laws regarding domestic violence in China, and with one in three to four (depending on which statistics you use) women in China experiencing abuse at the hands of their partners, this is clearly an issue that calls for definitive legislation and education. Particularly in conservative rural areas, where women are more likely to experience abuse and more likely to be told to keep quiet about it.

Kim Lee broke the silence, and her win in court added another chapter to the story. With global eyes on China and Chinese women calling for reform and better treatment, the nation could be on the cusp of a major victory for women’s rights.

Related stories:

Amendment 1 Takes Away Domestic Violence Protections

Dispatches From the War on Women: Who Deserves Domestic Violence Protections?

China’s “Leftover” Women

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo credit: ghetto_guera29

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
4:08AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

One would think that in a developped country like China, this type of abuse would not be ignored by the authorities.
In Canada and the US, domestic abuse is also commen but the abusers are arreted and jailed.
Is there any corner of the planet where women are safe from male abusers?

3:30AM PST on Feb 17, 2013

If the root of the problem can be dealt with

9:27PM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

12:01PM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Abuse both physical and mental is practiced all over the globe. Was there myself once in my youth and fortunately I had the means and gumption to walk away and never look back. Leave your abuser by running as fast as you can and never look back but keep an eye over your shoulder. If they don't get the hint do whatever it takes to make them get it. Being single can be liberating if you learn how.

10:29AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

6:13AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Unbelievable that there are still abused women.

3:33AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Change is necessary in China. Its nice to hear of it starting ....

2:53AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Good decision for her and to other Chinese women, that she went to Chinese court and not to embassy =)

11:15PM PST on Feb 13, 2013

Thanks for sharing the story of a brave women

9:23PM PST on Feb 13, 2013

thank you

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

The phrase 'white privilege' is supposed to be degrading. That is its purpose! And it is not 'Rich white…

"And although the international community has long demanded both sides give up their fighting, it’s…

Okay care2 ... another great share, thank you!!

ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!