A bizarre ruling in a divorce court has been made, ordering a husband to pay millions to his wife he seeks to divorce as compensation for her unpaid housework during the couple’s five years of marriage.
The unprecedented Monday landmark ruling took place in China,
Beijing’s Fangshan District Court which ruled in the woman’s favour, ordering her husband to pay her monthly alimony of 2,000 yuan, in addition to a one-off payment of 50,000 yuan (around 28 million shillings) for the housework she carried out during their time living together.
The man, only identified as Chen had filed for divorce from his wife identified as Wang last year. After 5 years of marriage, Wang was reluctant first but later asked for financial compensation, arguing that her male partner had not conducted any housework or childcare for their son.
The historic ruling comes after a new civil code which came into effect last year where a spouse is entitled to demand compensation during a divorce if he or she bears a disproportionate responsibility in child-raising, caring for elderly relatives, and aiding partners in their work.
Before the new legislation, divorcing spouses could only ask for compensation if they had signed a prenuptial agreement, which is not typical in China.
Despite the new law, China lags behind most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, with Chinese women spending around four hours a day doing unpaid work – 2.5 times that of men.
In the OECD countries, women spend twice the amount of time as men carrying out unpaid labour, OECD figures reveal.
However, China remains a developing country and is not one of the OECD nations.
Among the world’s emerging economies, women spend half an hour longer on average than their wealthier counterparts, according to a 2019 study by the International Monetary Fund entitled ‘Reducing and Redistributing Unpaid Work: Stronger Policies to Support Gender Equality’.
In either case, however, the responsibility of unpaid labour falls disproportionately on women, and studied have shown this has worsened amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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