UND Law Professor Awarded Fulbright Grant To Study The Legal Response To Violence Against Women In China

Robin Runge
Robin Runge

Robin Runge, assistant professor at the University of North Dakota School of Law, has received a Fulbright Research Scholar grant to study the developing legal system response to violence against women in China during the 2012-2013 academic year.

While affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, Runge plans to interview Chinese judges, lawyers and scholars undertaking these efforts in different regions of China and write an article comparing and contrasting the U.S. and Chinese approaches toward ending this epidemic. Her Fulbright grant is from August 2012 through April 2013.

“Domestic violence is a global epidemic that requires a global response in which people from different countries learn from each other’s experiences – including successes and failures – to build the most effective legal responses,” said Runge, who’s a nationally recognized expert on the legal response to domestic violence.

In 2008, the Supreme People’s Court of China adopted guidelines to assist judges in handling cases involving domestic violence. It also launched a pilot project in several provinces where judges issue protection orders against abusive spouses in divorce cases. Runge describes these protection orders as similar to civil protection orders, sometimes called restraining orders in the U.S., in which judges order a variety of remedies designed to stop the violence and to ensure protection from ongoing abuse at the hands of an intimate partner.

From 2009 to 2011, the number of courts participating in the pilot project in China grew from nine to seventy-two. In addition, one of China’s current legislative priorities is to draft national legislation to create protections for victims of domestic violence.

“Several actions have been taken in China that reflect a desire to engage the legal system as a part of a coordinated response to domestic violence, which is very exciting,” Runge said. “It’s unbelievable how much they’ve accomplished in a short period of time. I plan to use my Fulbright Award to study these efforts and compare them to similar efforts in the U.S. and share my reflections and findings with others undertaking facing similar challenges in addressing violence against.”

Runge’s Fulbright Award builds upon her previous work related to violence against women in China.  Since 2007, she has traveled to China several times at the request of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Program to participate in dialogues about legal responses to violence against women with Chinese judges, lawyers and scholars and to share information about U.S. laws intended to address domestic violence.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Runge joins the ranks of distinguished participants in the program. Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers. They have been awarded 43 Nobel Prizes. Since its inception more than 60 years ago, approximately 300,000 Fulbright participants have participated in the program.

About Robin R. Runge

At UND School of Law, Runge teaches domestic violence law and in the Employment and Housing Law Clinic. She has taught public interest lawyering at the George Washington University (GW) Law School since 2004, domestic violence law there in 2009 and at American University Washington College of Law (2005-2008). She received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her J.D. from the GW Law School.

Runge has advocated on behalf of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking for more than twenty years. She is regularly invited to travel domestically and internationally to consult with lawyers, judges and non-governmental entities on improving the legal response to violence against women.

Runge serves on numerous national, state and local boards and commissions including the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, Legal Services of North Dakota, the North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services, and the Community Violence Intervention Center of Grand Forks, N.D.

Runge’s current scholarship and advocacy interests focus on the regulation of the work and family lives of low-wage workers, specifically women who experience violence, and the impact of that regulation on class and gender equity in the workplace. Her previous published scholarship addresses the employment rights of low income women and the intersection of violence against women and employment law, including analysis of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, unemployment insurance, and employment protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  Her scholarship has appeared in The Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, Clinical Law Review and the Seattle Journal for Social Justice.

From 2003-2009, Runge directed the Commission on Domestic Violence at the American Bar Association. Previously, she was deputy director and coordinator of the Program on Women’s Employment Rights (POWER) at the D.C. Employment Justice Center and the Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Employment Project at the Employment Law Center, Legal Aid Society of San Francisco.

Runge was the first GW Law School graduate to receive an Equal Justice Fellowship from Equal Justice Works (formerly the National Association for Public Interest Law). With her fellowship, she created the Domestic Violence and Employment Project at the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco, one of the first programs in the country devoted exclusively to advocating for the employment rights of domestic violence victims.

Robin Runge, Assistant Professor
UND School of Law

Runge is available for phone interviews until her departure for China in late August 2012, at which point she is available for interviews via Skype or email.