A Chinese man has been ordered by a Beijing court to pay a compensation fee of $7,700 to his ex-wife for years of unpaid labours as his wife, a judgment that has sparked several debates in China.
This is the first of such decision by a Chinese court state media reports said, adding that the verdict raised questions about the status of women in Chinese families and unrecognised domestic work.
The country’s new civil code, which was enacted this year, provides space for an ex-spouse to demand for compensation if they handled more responsibilities during the course of the marriage to their partners.
Ex-wife Wang told the Beijing court that during five years of marriage she “looked after the child and managed household chores, while (her husband) Chen did not care about or participate in any other household affairs besides going to work”.
According to a February 4 court statement, Wang demanded for an extra compensation and for housework and childcare duties.
The Chinese court ruled in favour of Wang saying that she had indeed taken on more household responsibilities and should receive 50,000 yuan ($7,700) plus sole child custody and an additional 2,000 yuan in alimony per month.
The man identified by his surname Chen had filed for divorce last year from his wife, surnamed Wang, after getting married in 2015.
Feng Miao, the judge, said the decision was made according to Article 1088 of the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China.
The article, as quoted by state media stipulates, “Where one spouse is burdened with additional duties for raising children, looking after the elderly, or assisting the other spouse in his/her work, the said spouse has the right to request for compensation upon divorce against the other party, and the other party shall make due compensation.”
The ruling sparked widespread online debate over the value of women’s unpaid domestic labour. The trending hashtag “stay-at-home wife receives 50,000 yuan housework compensation” gained over 570 million views on the Twitter-like platform Weibo by Wednesday.
One user discouraged the idea of stay-at-home wives saying, “Women should never be stay-at-home wives, when you divorce, you are left with nothing whatsoever. 50,000 yuan in housework compensation is bullshit.”
“A full-time nanny could cost more than this for half a year, are women’s youth and feelings this cheap?” another user inquired