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China finally has a law prohibiting domestic violence

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After a decades-long push, China has finally enacted its first nationwide law prohibiting domestic violence.

The ground-breaking legislation covers both married and co-habiting couples and those living in foster families. It comes into force March 1, state news agency Xinhua reported.

It also defines domestic violence for the first time, and includes pyschological abuse as well as physical violence.

However, critics say there are still gaps -- it excludes same-sex couples and makes no mention of sexual violence.

Until 2001, when China amended its marriage law, abuse wasn't considered grounds for divorce and violence in the home has traditionally been regarded as a private matter to be dealt with by family members.

The high-profile divorce in 2013 of Li Yang, the founder of the "Crazy English" teaching method and his American wife Kim Lee, forced the issue out of the shadows, Xinhua says.

In 2011, Lee posted pictures of her bruised face on Chinese social media and accused her husband of domestic violence. She later said in an essay in the New York Times that police had told her no crime had occurred.

Li admitted beating his wife but attacked her for breaking with Chinese tradition and discussing private matters in public. The episode triggered a massive public debate on domestic violence.

The All China Women's Federation estimates that one in four married women has experienced domestic abuse, according to state media.

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