Woman Lawmaker Condemns Family Violence, Extramarital Affairs

Women should receive better legal protection and men who have kept mistresses or committed adultery or bigamy should be punished more severely, said Wu Changzhen, a professor of marriage law with the China University of Political Science and Law.

As a participant in the drafting of the revised version of the Marriage Law, Prof. Wu said that women are the biggest victims of unhappy marriage and family violence.

In the process of economic pluralization, the social status of women has been lowered and many of them have become more dependent on their husbands, said Prof. Wu, who is here to attend the current session of the Ninth CPPCC National Committee.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the All-China Women's Federation and a vice chairperson of the Beijing Municipal Women's Federation, Prof. Wu often talks to women who come to her for help.

Prof. Wu advocates for greater interference in marriage and opposes the argument that marriage is a kind of privacy beyond the reach of law. The so-called right of privacy has its limits and such malpractices as extramarital affairs and bigamy hurt others and must be punished by law, she insisted.

The draft amendment to the Marriage Law, which has been published for nationwide discussion earlier this year, adds the stipulations that husband and wife shall be faithful to each other and help each other and that they must respect the old and love the young. Ethically, this is an advocacy, she said. But legally, it is a manifesto.

"It's a long way to go for Chinese women to realize equality de facto from equality in law," she said.

(Xinhua 03/08/2001)