In a landmark case, a Chinese woman has been granted compensation for the housework that she did during her marriage.
In a ruling that has given rise to a huge debate about the value of domestic work, Ms. Wang was awarded 50,000 yuan (£5,460) for five years of unpaid labour she was considered to have done for her now ex-husband Mr. Chen.
It's a ruling made in light of China's new civil code, which only came into effect this year.
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.
As such, the judge presiding over the case said that the division of a couple's joint property after marriage usually entails splitting tangible property, 'but housework constitutes intangible property value'.
Mr. Chen had filed for divorce from Ms. Wang last year after five years of marriage, only to have his former partner respond with a request for financial compensation, having argued that Chen hadn't taken on any childcare responsibilities for their son or contributed to any housework.
The case was heard at Beijing's Fangshan District Court and was found to be in Wang's favour, with Chen ordered to pay monthly alimony of 2000 yuan, as well as the one-off payment of 50,000 yuan for her housework.
On the surface this seems like a potential good news story, but it has brought into sharp focus a debate around the worth of housework.
According to the BBC, the case has gone particularly viral on China's main social media platform Weibo, with a related hashtag on the site viewed more than 570 million times.
Some of Weibo's social media users pointed out that 50,000 yuan for five years' of work isn't very much at all. "I'm a bit speechless, the work of a full-time housewife is being underestimated. In Beijing, hiring a nanny for a year costs more than 50,000 yuan," said one person.
Others meanwhile were keen to point out that men should be taking on their share of the household duties in any case. There was also a strong argument that women shouldn't feel forced to concentrate on housekeeping so their husbands could concentrate on work.
"Ladies, remember to always be independent. Don't give up work after marriage, give yourself your own way out," wrote one social media user, encouraging women to try and achieve their own career ambitions.
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. It's a figure that's higher than the average in OECD countries, where women spend twice the amount of time as men on unpaid work.
Featured Image Credit: Pexels
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