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Affairs Haunt Guangdong Women
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Extramarital affairs and psychological problems are the biggest concerns of urban women in South China's Guangdong Province, according to the results of a recent survey.

The survey, by the Psychology Consultation Office of the Guangdong Provincial Women's Federation, measured women's psychological development by using the results of 2,661 consultation cases from 1995 to 2005.

"A great majority of women who come here for consultation said their families were plagued by extramarital affairs," said Shi Mengjuan, a doctor at the office.

According to the survey, more than 52 percent of the women who had come to Shi's office for consultation had dealt with extramarital affairs by their spouses.

Since its founding 12 years ago, more than 3,000 women have sought out psychological consultations at the center.

Shi said the number of extramarital cases cases involving extramarital sexual activity, love triangles, bigamy and cohabitation has been rising over the last decade.

"Extramarital affairs are more common because Chinese couples have been influenced by the Western concept of sexual liberation and freedom apart from traditional ethical codes," Shi said.

In addition, Shi said men today interact with a greater number of people through work and other social situations, enabling them to meet more women.

"It has helped increase the amount of extramarital sex," Shi said.

"But most women feel deeply hurt by extramarital affairs. So they seek helps from us."

After extramarital affairs, psychological problems caused by a heavy workload and household pressures associated with raising children also concern urban women, Shi said.

According to the survey by Shi's office, more than 10 percent of the women who came in for consultations were there for psychological problems.

Most women with psychological problems are aged between 25 and 40, the survey said.

"This special group of women, most of whom work for IT and governmental institutions, are generally better educated. In turn, they feel great pressure from work and family," Shi said.

However, some sociologists regard the situation as evidence of "a breakthrough" in the traditional relationship between men and women.

"Women, especially educated women, are pursuing more psychological contentment either at work or within the family since they want to be equal to men," said Zheng Zhizheng, director of the Sociology and Demology Research Centre of the Guangdong Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

"Unfortunately, they feel depressed because they suffer from too great a workload and pressure within the family," Zheng said.

For example, women find it hard to balance looking after their children and work after getting married, Zheng said.

Zheng also urged women who thought they might be suffering from psychological problems to seek medical and psychological treatment.

"Women should ask for medical and psychological assistance to help them handle psychological problems," Zheng said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2007)

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