An investigation and study conducted by the Anhui Women's Federation has shown that divorce rates in the rural areas, particularly among the migrant communities in Funan, Wuhe and Huaiyuan, are on the rise, according to a report published in the November 8 issue of Law & Life, which published twice a month.
To date, over 70 percent of cases accepted for hearing by the courts in Funan and Wuhe counties are divorces, most of which were initiated by local farmers who went out to work in the cities.
The study also showed that divorce petitions are usually submitted to the courts around the Chinese Spring Festival.
During Spring Festival last year from January 19 to February 9, the Huaiyuan Court handled 117 divorce petitions, hearing 87 percent of all accepted cases. On February 9 alone, 31 divorce cases were heard.
According to the Huaiyuan Court, about 15 percent of petitioners were reconciled through mediation; about 12 percent of the cases were dismissed and 27 percent got permissions.
The study also found that most divorce petitions are instituted because of the involvement of a third party. Long-term separation because of work was another commonly cited ground for divorce.
Over 70 percent of all divorces petitions in Zhuzhai Township, Funan County, involved third parties.
According to the Anhui Women's Federation, extended separation from spouses has a huge impact on values and outlooks on life and marriage.
Further, most divorce petitions are brought by women.
The study also revealed that when husbands get involved with women other than their wives, they tend to shirk their husbandly and fatherly duties, leaving wives little choice but to seek legal redress.
Some women are also driven to divorce by domestic violence.
Adjudicating a divorce petition can be further complicated when the time comes to dividing matrimonial property, according to Zhao Qingli, a judge from the People's Court in Xicheng District, Beijing.
Many migrant workers buy property in the cities after years of hard work. Zhao said divorce petitioners are more concerned with these than their rural properties.
An even more important issue is the custody of children. Rural wives are often forced to give up custody of their children because they are unable to care for them adequately, lacking the skills and education to earn a living.
“I sympathize with them as a woman,” Zhao said “But we are obliged to apply the law.”
Wu Wenyin, a judge who is in charge of divorce cases at Tongcheng County, Anhui Province, said that rural divorces have given rise to grave social issues involving the children of such broken marriages. Devoid of parental love, many of these children are abandoned or not adequately cared for, and many turn to crime.
(China.org.cn by Unisumoon, November 29, 2005)