SURVIVORS: China’s 1st VR on Domestic Violence launches on International Women’s Day

“I am pleasantly surprised by ‘Survivors’. You can not really feel the pain unless you experience it. This virtual reality (VR) video gives us an opportunity to put the viewers in the shoes of the witnesses and victims. When we talk about domestic violence, people picture crying women and abusive men, but there is more to it than that.” ­-Well known Chinese sexologist and sociologist, Li Yinhe, says about ‘Survivors’.

RNW Media’s project in China, Justice4her, is marking International Women’s Day and the 3rd anniversary of the Domestic Violence Laws coming into effect in China by releasing a VR on domestic violence.

Survivors’, produced together with the VR company CRCORE, is the story of a young boy who witnesses the violence between his parents. The VR draws the viewers’ attention to the impact of domestic violence at three different stages of this young boy’s life. The idea is to depict the deep and lasting impact of domestic violence on children.

“When we discuss domestic violence, we tend to focus on the direct victims and survivors, but we always forget the impact of such incidents on children who witness them.” Xia Liu, the Chief Editor at Justice4her, explains and adds: “plenty of studies show that it is more likely for witnessing children to reflect the same moral values in their adult lives.”

China’s first anti-domestic violence law came into effect on 1 March 2016, signifying the dedication of the Chinese government to eliminate domestic violence. However, even after three years not everyone in China is aware of this new law or has adequate knowledge about it.

In 2018, Justice4her conducted a survey in collaboration with the Beijing Normal University. We asked approximately 1,500 female migrant workers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong if they have been subject to domestic violence in the past year. 50% responded that they have suffered at least one form of domestic violence. About 38% of respondents stated that they have experienced emotional abuse and about 14% said they have been subject to physical violence. However, nearly 70% of respondents said that they had never heard of ‘protective laws’ in place or they did not have enough knowledge about their application to situations in real life. The results of this survey sparked the idea of ‘survivors’ for Justice4her.

‘Survivors’ is not only looking at domestic violence from a new angle but is also the first VR to address such a topic in China. Using VR technology gives viewers a powerful and real experience and involves them in the subject matter by stimulating their empathy on a different level.

Justice4her is co-funded by the EUAid. The VR will be premiered on 5 major Chinese VR video platforms as of 8 March, including Aiqiyi VR, Veer, 3D Bobo, Chengzi VR, UtoVR. Some offline screening events will follow to create the utmost outreach for this first of its kind VR in China.