Shanghai Higher People's Court (SHPC), recently issued the Notice on Further Strengthening Cooperation and Establishing a Sound Working Mechanism for the Protection of Women's and Children's Rights and Interests.
The notice comprises 19 working mechanisms. These integrate the reform and innovations of Shanghai Women's Federation (SWF) into judicial reform, family affairs trial reform and innovative efforts on social governance.
The document highlights making full use of the unique advantages of women's federations in the mediation of marriage and family disputes by enhancing the federations' level and ability in rights protection.
As early as 2011, SWF and the SHPC jointly promoted a number of actions, including the establishment of a joint conference system; the participation of women's federations in prosecution processes; the selection of female officials as people's jurors; and, the court's application of local regulations about the protection of women's and minors' rights and interests in trials, which has led to successful experiences.
In the notice, SWF and the SHPC agree to strengthen the standardization of their communication and coordination mechanisms, and hold one or two joint meetings annually to study and solve prominent marriage and family conflicts and protection of children's rights and interests.
Meanwhile, they will set up a joint training mechanism, which will allow the court to regularly conduct legal guidance for investigators, mediators, representatives of children's interests and people's jurors as recommended by women's federations.
Women's federations will be responsible for the training of judges, mediators and jurors on gender equality and anti-domestic violence law
Over the years, SWF and the SHPC have jointly conducted research on the most relevant and difficult issues in terms of women's rights protection and trial practices, and put forward opinions and suggestions on the improvement of laws and regulations.
The notice specifies that SWF and SHPC will conduct cooperative research on the protection of minors, anti-domestic violence, and problems in marriages and families. The will also promote the perfection of laws, regulations and public policies closely related to the interests of women and children.
They will explore the introduction of psychological counseling mechanism in the trial of family affairs cases, and make full use of the White Magnolia Happy Home centers and resources that cover the 16 districts of the city.
They will also guide professional social forces to participate in family-related case trials, provide marriage counseling and family contradictions analysis, as well as mental health services such as scientific parenting counseling.
As for the protection of children, the Notice clearly stipulates that women's federations at all levels should be entrusted by the court to select representative experts on children's rights and interests, and to thoroughly learn about the family, life and study of minors through pre-trial interviews.
The representatives will fully speak for the legitimate rights and interests in litigation cases on behalf of the minors; conduct follow-up sessions and supervision of the execution of cases and the protection of minors after the final judgment of any lawsuit; and, form a protective service chain consisting of pre-trial prevention and communications, mediation assistance in court, and follow-up guidance after the court.
The Notice also clearly proposes that both sides will establish the Fayuan Tianping Children's Special Fund as part of the Shanghai Children's Fund.
In addition, grassroots women's federations will cooperate with the court to provide spiritual care, psychological companionship, guidance on life and growth for minors who need long-term support after prosecution, changing the current one-time economic assistance into a long-term comprehensive help after any legal action.
(Source: Cnwomen.cn/ Translated and edited by Women of China)