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Extra-Marital Affairs Under Spotlight

Legislators have agreed to fight against bigamy and domestic violence, as well as deal more effectively with the issue of family property.

Legislators attending the ongoing 19th session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Monday discussed such areas as bigamy and other types of misconduct that challenges monogamy, domestic violence, and marriage settlements and division of family property, as well as compensation in divorce.

Such subjects have triggered heated debate since legislators decided to revise the Marriage Law in 1995.

Legislator Wan Shaofen proposed that amendments should employ tougher measures to fight bigamy and give it a clearer definition.

A draft amendment says the law bans bigamy and other conduct that challenges the “one husband and one wife” system.

China’s Criminal Code stipulates that bigamy may result in imprisonment of up to two years. Married people who leave home to live with their lovers are considered to have committed bigamy, according to the current judicial interpretation.

However, some mistresses pretend to be maids or secretaries as a way to escape punishment. This is referred to as “Bao Ernai,” which means men who provide financial support for their mistresses.

Wan said such conduct should be punished as bigamy. She was supported by legislator Chang Shana, who suggested the judicial explanation for bigamy be enlarged to include “Bao Ernai.”

On domestic violence, a draft amendment says victims can seek either private or public prosecutions.

Legislator Shu Huaide said the amended law should go even further by allowing other people to report domestic violence to public security officers.

Turning to family property, legislator Wu Shuqing applauded the introduction of a new marriage settlement amendment.

“A contract that specifies the property before marriage will not only maintain purity of love, but also reduce the possibility of fighting over money when a marriage ends,” he said.

(China Daily 12/26/2000)

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