Thousands call new Chinese domestic violence helpline app

The service was set up on the popular WeChat mobile platform by rights lawyer Li Ying. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

BEIJING - Thousands of Chinese women have called a new domestic violence helpline app within days of its launch, its founder said.

Campaigners say domestic violence cases have risen sharply during the pandemic, as strict restrictions kept people locked in with abusers and increased financial and personal pressures.

Around 13,000 people, the vast majority of them women, used the Domestic Violence Help service in its first five days, Ms Li Ying, a rights lawyer who set it up on the popular WeChat mobile platform, said in an interview.

That compared with just 600 people who used the conventional telephone helpline run by her Beijing-based Yuanzhong Family & Community Development Service Centre in all of 2021, Ms Li added.

"When the pandemic first started, people who came to seek consultations from us on domestic violence grew 21 per cent compared to the same period in previous years. The severity increased too," Ms Li told Zhengmian Lianjie, a media outlet on WeChat, on Monday.

"This May was a peak, and there were quite a lot of (cases) in June. It has to do with the repeated Covid-19 outbreaks," she said.

The centre opened the WeChat service on Aug 18. Within its first week, more than 200 people directly asked for help in an abusive situation, Ms Li said.

In June, surveillance footage of men assaulting women at a restaurant unleashed a flood of online outrage and renewed a debate over the treatment of women. REUTERS

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