Law forces kids to visit parents

By Wang Nan Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-1 0:18:01

China will launch a new law on Monday that requires family members to visit and care for their aged parents, sparking a heated debate on whether it is appropriate for government to meddle in family business and tackle moral issues with legal means.

The new revision of the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly People, which was passed in December, add that family members should visit the elderly more often and forbids any form of domestic violence upon elderly people, such as insulting or discriminatory language, physical torture, or abandonment.

The revision has triggered discussion as it does not specify how often a visit to one's parents is considered "appropriate," nor does it specify what punishment one will face if he or she fails to visit.

"More quantitative standards and measures need to be added. The current revision looks more like a reminder for young people to refocus on the traditional values of filial piety rather than a compulsory law," said Xia Xueluan, a professor with the Institute of Sociology and Anthropology of Peking University.

The law also requires employers to ensure employees whose parents live far away to have up to 20 days of home leave, while people doubt many companies are likely to implement this.

"I want to visit my parents often, but I don't have enough money and time, and I don't believe my employer will be happy," said Chen Jian, who works in Beijing, but is from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. 

The law restates adult children's responsibility to take care of their aged parents, both economically and psychologically, and rules that elderly people should enjoy as much freedom in marriage as anyone else. 

The law also stipulates that adult children's responsibility to support aged parents does not change with their parents' marital status.

Aside from the new law, experts suggest that government should be more proactive in protecting elderly people's rights.

"Guaranteeing adequate pensions and social welfare for the elderly should be the key points of the law as this is easier to implement," Yu Shaoxiang, an expert on social security at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Cases of elderly relatives or parents being abused have increased in recent years. In February, an elderly couple from Hebei Province committed suicide in Beijing, after being forced to live in a small shack outside their son's house, and being given little food.

China had 185 million people at or above the age of 60 by the end of 2011, about 13.7 percent of the total population. By 2050, one-third of the Chinese will be over 60 years of age, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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