Chinese officials urged not to execute domestic violence victim Call comes after supreme people's court reportedly upholds death sentence for Li Yan who killed her abusive husband Li Yan had begged authorities to protect her from her husband who stubbed out cigarettes on her face and cut off part of her finger. Photograph: Hand out Chinese scholars and lawyers have urged officials to spare the life of a woman who could be executed within days for murdering her abusive husband. Supporters say a reprieve for Li Yan would send the message that authorities are serious about confronting domestic violence. The 41-year-old from Sichuan had repeatedly begged for protection from her spouse. According to Amnesty International, Li's husband, Tan Yong, stubbed out cigarettes on her face, cut off part of her finger and locked her out on the balcony of their home in wintertime while she was only partially clothed. She killed him in November 2010 by repeatedly hitting him over the head with an airgun to stop him from beating her. More than 100 legal experts and academics have signed an open letter calling for her sentence to be commuted. The supreme people's court has reportedly upheld Li's death sentence, but her lawyer, Guo Jianmei, a well-known women's rights advocate, said the defence team had not received formal notification. "Even if there is only a little hope, we want to fight for her to have a chance to live," she said. "She killed her husband in fear that her life was seriously threatened." Li's supporters say she tried to save Tan when she saw his injuries, then panicked when she realised he was dead. She attempted to dispose of his body by dismembering and boiling it. Guo said that as horrifying as that act was, Li did not deserve to die. "We give mercy to [those who have committed] many extreme crimes; why can't we give mercy to a woman who committed her crime in fear and after torment? "She used violence against violence; she did not pose an extreme danger to society." A study by the All China Women's Federation suggests around one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life â€“ similar to the rates indicated in European research. Other studies have suggested that as many as two in three women could be affected in some rural areas. Addressing such abuse is difficult in every country, but campaigners in China say it is particularly hard because of the belief that family conflicts should remain private and because of inadequate laws and services. Activists have tried to highlight the issue through symbolic protests in recent years â€“ last Valentine's Day, women in Beijing demonstrated in bridal gowns spattered with fake blood â€“ and a broader public debate was sparked when the American wife of the famous entrepreneur Li Yang publicly accused him of beating her. He later admitted doing so. But Feng Yuan, director of the Anti-Domestic Violence Network, warned: "More and more people agree that public power should play a role in curbing domestic violence, but many people still have not realised how serious the issue is." She added: "We don't have a [specific] law against domestic violence and many services cannot provide female victims with efficient and effective help, and cannot curb and prevent domestic violence, so tragedies [such as Li's case] happen." Feng said better laws and regulations were needed to spell out the duties of police and other services and ensure they acted on complaints of abuse. The Global Times newspaper reported last year that most of China's 400 shelters for abused women had fallen out of use. Li Dehuai, Li Yan's brother, said Tan won his sister's trust despite the family's concern at rumours that he had been violent to his previous wives. "At beginning, the marriage was fine. Gradually, he showed his real face. He started to slap her, and use cigarettes to torture her," he said. His normally extrovert sister became increasingly withdrawn, and did not dare to tell her family what was happening, even when her mother asked her about her injuries. When the violence escalated in summer 2010, Li pleaded with the local women's association and police for help, her brother said. "[But] domestic violence is considered to be an issue within the family, and other families have more or less similar situations, so they did not take any action," he said. "I hope she won't despair. As long as we have a little hope, I will cherish it and keep persevering for her." Roseann Rife, head of East Asia for Amnesty International â€“ which opposes capital punishment under all circumstances â€“ called for Li's sentence to be commuted to imprisonment. "Justice is not served by executing Li Yan. Had the Chinese authorities protected Li, as they are required to under international law, this tragic outcome could have been avoided. Li's claims should have been properly investigated and her husband prosecuted before she resorted to violence herself." Additional research by Cecily Huang â€¢ This article was amended on 29 January 2013 to correct a reference to the lawyer Guo Jianmei as 'he' instead of 'she'. Chinese officials urged not to execute domestic violence victim | World news | The Guardian ************************************ Murder cannot be condoned, but there is some substance to requesting reprieve in abusive attitude like stubbing cigarettes on the victim or cutting the victim's finger. I am not too sure about the Chinese justice system, which can be fast and without the niceties, but then will the Chinese court give a reprieve? If it does, it would mean that the authorities are serious about curbing domestic violence.