Asia Minute: Chinese Court Rules on Value of Housework

Feb 25, 2021

A court ruling in China is getting a lot of attention around the Asia Pacific this week. The case involves a divorce, and a decision about whether the ex-wife deserves compensation for housework she did during the marriage.

What’s the value of housework?

That’s a question that came under review in a Chinese court this month interpreting a new marriage law that’s now in effect across the country.

China National Radio reports the woman in the case was looking for the equivalent of about 25,000 U.S. dollars for five years of “extra family and housework responsibilities” — separate from monthly alimony. She said her husband “barely cared about or participated in any kind of domestic chores” including caring for their young son.

The judge ruled in favor of the wife, saying that “housework constitutes an intangible property value” but ordered restitution of less than a third of what the woman was seeking.

This week, the case has been getting a lot of attention on Chinese social media — along with the new civil law.

The BBC reports the terms of the new measure mean a divorcing spouse can seek compensation if one party bears more responsibility in child raising, caring for elderly relatives, or helping partners in their work.

That’s a new concept in Chinese courts, but the online reaction showed that many people feel that in this case, the extent of those contributions was still undervalued.