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In the latest blow for women in the country, China introduced a new divorce law that requires couples filing for a divorce to complete a 30-day cooling-off period, as reported by South China Morning Post. Making it even more challenging for women to divorce abusive husbands, the newly introduced law has triggered a major backlash in society. Especially because of the timing the law was introduced as it is just a few weeks after Chinese social media erupted over a Hunanese woman’s endless attempts to divorce her reportedly abusive, gambling-addicted husband since 2016.
Despite the case of Hunanese woman Ning Shunhua who has already filed four divorce petitions and two protective orders with now filing a fifth divorce attempt, the new Chinese law states that if one spouse decides to withdraw the divorce application during the 30-day cooling-off period or does not turn up for the final approval, the other side has to either reapply or sue for a divorce, that is reportedly costly. The new law by the Xi Jinping-led government, as per the report, aims at curbing impulsive divorces to further boost the birth rate.
Reportedly, the Chinese government officials are dismayed by the rising divorce rate which has spiked from 0.96 per thousand in 2,000 to 3.36 per thousand in 2019. The rate has further soared amid the COVID-19 pandemic that began in China in December 2019. The report also stated that the Chinese divorce law would disadvantage the partner without an independent source of income, which in the Asian country is usually a woman. However, most divorce applications are often filed by women and hence, the cost of divorce has now risen in terms of time, energy, and money.
In the case of the Hunanese woman’s case, who has already been unsuccessful in divorcing her husband after four attempts since 2016, the court has not yet granted a divorce. As per the report, the court has said that divorce would affect Ning’s “family stability and social harmony.” This was after her husband assaulted her just after their divorce case was heard for the fourth time in court. Following this, he was reportedly again arrested and she was again granted a protection order. As per the report, Ning’s story highlights the multifaceted challenges that victims of domestic violence have to go through when seeking a legal separation in China.