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Change in Chinese Marriage Law Favours Husbands
August 22, 2011
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The Chinese government has just announced a new interpretation of its Marriage Act. Under the new policy, the spouse that put the original down-payment on the home the couple lives in will retain full ownership of that home in the event of a divorce. China's government says it is trying to encourage women to marry for love, rather than money, in order to reverse a rise in divorce rates.

There are concerns, however, that the policy will simply open the door for men to get away with mistreating their wives. One such case is already before the courts - Ms. Zhu from Nanjing is currently trying to divorce her husband, who cheated on her twice. Under the old law, she'd be entitled to half the property they lived in. Now, she may get close to nothing.

This shift in the view of marriage may be due in part to the legacy of sex selection - the long-standing preference in Chinese society for male children. At the moment, there are 120 young Chinese men for every 100 young Chinese women. And by 2050, there will be 60 million more men of marriageable age in China and India than women.

This uneven distribution of gender is fundamentally changing the way Chinese people look at marriage. With fewer women on the market, men have to prove their wealth and long-term prospects in order to win a wife - a new reality that is changing some people's experience of marriage.


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