The case was widely covered in national and international media, drawing attention for the gruesome nature of Lhamo’s death — as well as raising discussion on the larger problems surrounding women and violence in China. On Chinese social media, there was heated debate over how the country’s legal system often fails to protect victims while easily pardoning perpetrators of abuse.
Part of the problem, many activists and women said, was the lingering and deep-rooted idea that domestic disputes are a family’s private problem — which can often mean authorities are reluctant to get involved, or that women face social stigma for speaking out. Until 2001, when China amended its marriage law, abuse wasn’t considered grounds for divorce.
China only enacted its first nationwide law prohibiting domestic violence in
2015, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that defines domestic violence for the first time
, and includes psychological abuse as well as physical violence
sin embargo, critics say there are still gaps — it excludes same-sex couples and makes no mention of sexual violence.
After the death sentence was handed down Thursday, one user on the Chinese social media platform Weibo argued that “vague” terms like domestic violence should be dropped from legal cases because it “obfuscates right from wrong” and undermines the severity of the crime.
“Intentional assault is intentional assault, and homicide is homicide, regardless of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim,” said the user, with the comment gaining more than 24,700 gustos.
Many others expressed support for Tang’s sentence, and generally of China’s use of the death penalty, in response to Lhamo’s case.
The topics of domestic violence, abuse and dissatisfaction with the system had already been circulating in public discourse when Lhamo’s murder occurred, adding to the growing outrage.
Just a few months before her death, China passed a controversial law requiring couples who want to divorce to first undergo a month-long “cooling off” período — raising concerns it could further endanger victims of abuse and prevent them from leaving a dangerous relationship.