Rising divorce rate in China seen as sign of social progress for women

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-29 23:58:02

China has seen a rise in its divorce rate since 2003, with over 3 million couples getting divorced last year, 3.9 percent higher than the previous year, a phenomenon that experts believe symbolizes the awakening of feminism and social progress.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said in its latest report that over 3.6 million couples got divorced in 2014 and the divorce rate is 2.7 per thousand, compared with 2.6 per thousand in the previous year.

"The rise of the divorce rate showed that more women began to defend their rights to equality, which marks social progress," Peng Xiaohui, a professor of sexology with Central China Normal University, told the Global Times Sunday.

Peng said that marriage has been a male-dominated social norm. Society progresses when women can be happy outside of marriage or do not feel discriminated against when they raise their children by themselves.

The divorce rate in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is the highest at 4.61 per thousand, followed by Northeast China's Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces, reported The Mirror on Saturday, adding that 100,000 among 260,000 couples in Xinjiang who were married in 2012 have divorced.

The high divorce rate in Xinjiang may be related to its ethnic culture. Most divorced couples are Uyghur people who have been influenced by their religious beliefs, which allow a husband to have multiple wives, Li Xiaoxia, a professor with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Li added that local culture in Xinjiang shows more tolerance and support to divorced women, and they can more easily get remarried.

The report also said that the divorce rate of Shaanxi Province is 0.18 per thousand, the lowest in the country.

"Previously, people regarded divorce as something humiliating. Now couples view marriage differently from their parents and they do not think that divorce is bad choice," said a Jiangsu-based marriage registrar surnamed Wei, adding that most applied for divorce due to personality clashes, interference from their parents and extramarital affairs.

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