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In a culture where women are already experiencing devasting effects because of the sex ratio bias, the Chinese government goes ahead and does this.
The Chinese Supreme Court issued a new proviso to The Marriage Law - property bought before marriage reverts to the buyer on divorce. Before that the family home was joint property. Many agree that because of the culture men contribute more financially, that women will suffer. Others say that divorce rates will increase as result of the new law. A New York Times article cites those who are calling it a return to feudalism,
“The Supreme Court is under suspicion of overstepping its authority,” Ma Yinan, a Peking University law professor and deputy head of the Marriage and Family Law Institute under the China Law Society, told the newspaper Southern Weekend. Supporters were trying to justify the new rules as strengthening traditional family structures by preserving a family’s financial investment, he said.
“That’s feudalism,” Mr. Ma said. “We smashed that already. Broke it. For them to advocate traditional family structures is a joke!”
You know it's pretty easy to make light of the situation with a comment like one Chinese blogger, "if you own the damn house, then you should clean it." But this type of law just underscores how much women suffer from a lack of political power and are subject to violence (be it physical or emotional abuse) in these countries. Highly skewed sex ratios like those seen in China and many Muslim countries are a consequence of "missing women." Some estimates suggest that 30-70 million women are missing from India and China. Missing in the sense that the girl children are aborted, abandoned and in some case killed. As a consequence of the sex ratio bias, there is an increase in human trafficking as men try to purchase their wives. According to one source, 42,000 women and children were kidnapped and then freed by police from 2001 to 2003. Many fear that this proviso could simply leave women on the street or worse at the mercy of their property owners.
Some days I wonder how many steps backward will we take before we can take enough of a leap forward that progress will stick.
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