China court orders man to pay wife $7,700 for housework she did during their marriage

A Chinese divorce court has ordered a man to compensate his wife with 50,000 yuan ($7,700; £5,460) for five years of unpaid labour/housework she did during their marriage.

The landmark course case has generated a huge debate online over the value of domestic work, with some feminists saying the compensation amount was too little.

The court ruling comes after China’s introduction of a new civil code.

Under the new law, a spouse is entitled to seek compensation in a divorce if he or she bears more responsibility in child raising, caring for elderly relatives, and assisting partners in their work.

Previously, divorcing spouses could only request such compensation if a prenuptial agreement had been signed – an uncommon practice in China.

According to court records, the man identified by his surname Chen had filed for divorce last year from his wife, surnamed Wang, after getting married in 2015.

She didn’t want to divorce at first, but later requested financial compensation, arguing that Chen had not shouldered any housework or childcare responsibilities for their son.

Beijing’s Fangshan District Court ruled in her favour, ordering him to pay her monthly alimony of 2,000 yuan, as well as the one-off payment of 50,000 yuan for the housework she has done.

The presiding judge told reporters this week that the division of a couple’s joint property after marriage usually entails splitting tangible property.

“But housework constitutes intangible property value,” said the judge.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Chinese women spend nearly four hours a day on unpaid work – roughly 2.5 times that of men.

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