No Leeway for Bigamists: Chinese Legislators

Chinese lawmakers Friday increased their strong support for adding more stringent provisions to the 20-year-old marriage law to combat bigamy and domestic violence across the country.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature, held a panel discussion in Beijing Friday on the long-anticipated draft amendments to the law.

Li Peng, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, attended Friday's panel debate.

"On Monday when the draft was submitted for review, twenty out of the total twenty-five phone-calls received by a court in Beijing involved consultation of the draft. This fully demonstrates the necessity of revising the law and the high degree of concern the general public convey," said Mao Daru, a member of the NPC Standing Committee.

Lawmakers agreed that the increase in extra-marital affairs and bigamy has become a serious problem that puts traditional morality in jeopardy. Bigamy, in particular, threatens normal marital relations and social stability.

While expressing their appreciation for the amendments in terms of tighter measures against bigamy and domestic violence, the lawmakers held that more stringent measures should be put in place to punish those for having a "concubine", or for abusing their wives, children or the elderly.

Hou Zongbin, chairman of the NPC Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs, said that bigamy has not only ruined the morality of society, but also corrupted governmental officials.

In Guangdong Province, 95 percent of all criminals accused of economic crimes, were found to have had at least one "concubine", said Hou, who served as deputy secretary of CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection from 1992 to 1997.

Hou said that the corrupted practices are also threatening the country's family planning policy.

Children from divorced families or with parents involved in bigamy, more often than not, lose their way and commit crimes because they are discriminated against or driven out of the family, he said.

In 75 bigamy cases concerning officials in Guangdong Province, 34 such children were involved, he noted.

Statistics show that divorce cases resulted from extra-marital affairs account for 65 percent.

In order to avoid punishment, few bigamists have opened their marriage status or make their relationship public in name of husband and wife. Therefore, some legislators demand a redefinition of bigamy in the amendments.

Wu Zengrong, a prestigious female lawyer from Heilongjiang Province and a member of the NPC Standing Committee, argues that a married person who cohabits with another sex partner for three to six months should be regarded as a bigamist.

Domestic violence was another hot issue in the debate.

At present, domestic violence includes cursing, beating, physical and psychological torture and sexual violence. In extreme case, the victims are even tortured to death.

Prof. Chang Shana, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, proposed that the amendments should stipulate that domestic violence is forbidden and serious domestic violence should be charged with a crime of abuse.

Other topics in the discussion include the cracking down on human-smuggling, and policies relating to test-tube-babies and homosexuals.

Li Peng concluded the debate by pointing out that more proposals should be asked for from the general public and more deputies should be invited to attend the next panel discussion of the draft amendments.

(Xinhua 10/28/2000)

In This Series

Amendments to Oust Mistresses

12 Draft Laws to Be Reviewed



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