Failing to implement CEDAW in Hong Kong

why isn’t anyone using the Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Violence Ordinance?

Amy Barrow, Anne Scully-Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


In its reports to the The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee, Hong Kong relies on reform of civil law legislation on domestic violence as evidence that Hong Kong has complied with its obligation to take steps to eliminate violence against women. However, statistics show that very few applications are made for remedies under the relevant legislation, the Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Violence Ordinance (DCRVO). To identify why the Ordinance is not being used as was envisaged, the strengths and weaknesses of the current framework for civil remedies against domestic violence are assessed by reference to published research on the sociocultural context in which domestic violence against women is experienced and perceived in Hong Kong and by close reference to our own empirical research conducted with lawyers, social service providers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working directly with women subject to domestic violence. Our findings show that the remedies under the DCRVO are underutilized and unattractive due to issues of awareness, misperception as to purpose and cost of the remedies, failure to identify the violence suffered as a ‘legal’ matter and poor fit with cultural norms. In finding that the current legislation does not, therefore, provide effective legal remedies, we conclude that there is thus a ‘gap’ in Hong Kong’s compliance with its obligations under CEDAW.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-78
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Law, Policy and the Family
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

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