The equivalent of almost 6,400 euros for five years of housework: a Chinese divorce court in Beijing’s Fangshan district sentenced a man to pay his ex-wife 50,000 yuan for childcare and housework. The case is, as the British newspaper Independent writes, a precedent in the country: Only recently was family work there put a price tag.
Last month, a change in civil law in China came into effect: according to this, a spouse can claim compensation in the context of a divorce if he or she has taken on more domestic duties – this includes child-rearing and care for older family members.
In the specific case, the couple married in 2015 and lived separately since 2018, their son stayed with the mother. In 2020, the husband filed for divorce. He was confronted with demands for compensation from his wife, who argued that he had barely participated in the housework and childcare.
In retrospect, the husband had to pay his ex-wife, in addition to monthly alimony of the equivalent of 255 euros, 6400 euros for the housework he had done in previous years. According to CNN, the presiding judge justified the judgment by saying that housework, for example, would improve the chances of the other spouse to achieve personal and professional goals – but that was not reflected in the division of property.
The ruling sparked a heated debate on Chinese social media about the value of unpaid work. According to the OECD, women in China do around two and a half times as much housework as men, around four hours a day. After the verdict, a corresponding hashtag trended mainly on the twitter-like network Weibo – and was viewed more than 500 million times.
According to the news site CNN, the users were divided: Many found that the amount that the court awarded the wife was far too low – and noted that the total amount in Beijing was just enough to afford a nanny for a year . Others noted that it was no wonder that young people no longer wanted to marry: “It’s just too expensive.”