She really cleaned up.
A Chinese divorce court has ordered a man to pay $7,700 to his ex-wife for domestic services she rendered during their marriage.
The groundbreaking ruling is the first case concerning a recently enacted law that may require breadwinning ex-spouses to cover the years their partner spent cooking, cleaning, raising children, nursing elder relatives or otherwise supporting the family from home.
The decision has sparked a heated debate among millions of Chinese citizens on social media over the value of housework, according to the South China Morning Post.
The couple in question, whose identities are limited to their surnames — Wang and Chen — were married for five years, two of which they spent separated before ultimately filing for divorce in 2020, according to court documents. Ms. Wang has argued that she is entitled to compensation, particularly for the two years she reared their son with no substantial input from ex-husband Mr. Chen.
Wang has also accused Chen of having an affair.
The court awarded Wang full custody of their son and ordered Chen to pay his family 2,000 yuan ($300) per month going forward and an additional bill of 50,000 yuan ($7,700) for the chores and child care duties that Wang performed during marriage.
Critics on Weibo, China’s preeminent social media site, have said the court didn’t go far enough, with one user pointing out that a year’s salary at any job would be more than twice that amount. On the other hand, others have argued that Wang “also enjoyed the fruit of her housework,” so why should Chen be responsible for compensation?
Zhong Wen, a divorce lawyer in China’s Sichuan province, told SCMP that the new law, enacted Jan. 1 of this year, sets a new precedent in the country.
“Those who do housework are devalued in a marriage, with the most obvious effect being their survival skills in society and their professional skills will probably decrease,” Zhong said.
He also said the court’s order was conservative compared to divorce norms in other cultures, adding that divorce proceedings in the UK take domestic duties of both parties into consideration, regardless of their work status, when divvying property and establishing alimony.
Globally, women take on two-and-a-half times as much unpaid caretaking and household work as men, according to studies by the United Nations.