In March 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, while conducting a survey on whether Chinese people’s rights and interests were damaged overseas , SRP interns in Belgium successively received requests for help from local Chinese women who were injured by domestic violence. The pandemic has severely exacerbated domestic violence around the world, and the shadow of domestic violence has continued to spread. However, even if the overall number of reported cases surged, the voices of countless victims were not heard. At the same time, the ability and efficiency of local police to deal with domestic violence cases have declined significantly, and the community rescue resources were scarce, resulting in more harm and less shelter.
Domestic (intimate relationship) violence against women has always been a serious global social problem. Research and data show that women are more likely to suffer long-term and worse physical and psychological abuse than men or other groups, as well as violence that can lead to serious injuries or death. Various factors such as pregnancy, low income, alcohol and drug abuse, social stereotypes of women, low education levels, religious beliefs, and imperfect legal systems have all made female groups the main victims of domestic violence.
The investigation also found that, due to complex factors such as nationality restrictions, distance from relatives and friends, language barriers, cultural differences, social prejudice, lack of economic resources, and lack of awareness of local laws, immigrant women have always been a high-risk group of domestic violence, with more Chinese women involved. In addition, in the early stage of the pandemic, the exclusion and discrimination against overseas Chinese put Chinese women in a more dangerous situation. Consequently, Chinese women living abroad unfortunately became the main victims of various violent crimes, but they were subject to objective conditions and unable to protect their legitimate rights. Therefore, help from other Chinese is particularly important for victims who suffered domestic violence during the pandemic.
The Oversea Chinese Women Protection Project initiated by SRP is a long-term public welfare project focusing on disadvantaged overseas Chinese women. The project－centered on domestic violence, starting from Belgium－tries to establish a global rescue network to help the victims defend their legitimate rights and get out of trouble.
Through collecting and sorting process of information, the project will build a safe and convenient online help docking platform. On the basis of long-term cooperation with many professional organizations, institutions and expert consultants, it will provide multi-dimensional support featuring language, psychological, medical and legal aid in various national outlets.
The project is committed to improving the life of the target group, helping them to empower themselves, conveying female stories through interviews and writing and spreading anti-domestic violence experience and positive energy so as to extend help and support through community and form a virtuous circle of mutual support. The pilot project started in Belgium in July 2020, and is expected to cover 30 countries with the largest number of Chinese in the world within three years.
As of December 2020, a total of 151 volunteers have participated in the project; a total of 446 databases have been established, such as rescue organizations, shelter networks, legal networks, medical networks, and psychological networks; a total of 49 domestic and foreign partners have been reached out, including more than 10 in-depth cooperation partners; the project has helped 37 women from Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and the United States.
Translators: Dingfan Yan, Ariadne & Jacqueline