A 30-year-old woman from Hubei Province was sentenced to 18 months in jail for polygamy even though she never legally married her second "husband."
The woman, identified in the Hongkou District People's Court only by the surname An, was given a reprieve, however, meaning if she doesn't break the law for several years she won't have to serve the prison term. Her lover Xia Yang, who was also married, was given a similar sentence previously by a separate court.
An came to the city in 2001 and found a job in a restaurant that Xia often ate in. They quickly became friends and by 2002 she was living with the man. Both of them are married and had their own children living outside the city.
An told the court Xia seldom went back to his home with his first wife since 2000. During the period she lived with Xia, Xia's wife came to look for him several times. But Xia never agreed to go back until early 2004, after his business had hit a slump and An had his baby. Xia took An back home to live with his first wife in January 2004. One month later, An divorced her husband in Hubei.
Xia often fought with his wife and she finally had him charged with polygamy in September 2005, even though he had never married An.
According to China's criminal law, married people who leave home to live with their lovers are considered to have committed bigamy.
(Shanghai Daily February 12, 2007)