Scalpers irk netizens for charging $93 to help couples reserve divorce slots in Guangzhou
Published: Feb 02, 2021 08:38 PM

divorce Photo: CFP

Scalpers are reportedly charging 600 yuan ($93) for helping couples reserve divorce slots in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, which sparked heated discussion on whether it is too troublesome for people to end their marriages. However, a local civil servant told the Global Times that couples can make reservations for this process online or via phone, and the report is not accurate.

China News Week on Monday posted a video on Sina Weibo, reporting that no slots were left to apply for divorces in Guangzhou before March 1, and scalpers were charging 600 yuan to help grab a slot in the online reservation system.

The news instantly sparked heated discussion on whether the barriers for divorce are too high, and many also recalled the policy of a 30-day cooling-off period after couples applied for a divorce. If making an appointment is impossible, the cooling-off period would be meaningless, a net user posted on Weibo.

A civil servant surnamed Luo working in the marriage registration office of the Zengcheng district, Guangzhou told the Global Times on Tuesday that the appointment system of Guangdong shows there are online appointments available next week.

Besides, people can also call 12349, the hotline of the civil affairs office, or marriage registration offices' hotlines to make appointments. They can also wait in person, but priority will be given to those who have reservations, Luo said.

There is also a serious no-show problem for online reservations. Luo Pengfei, an official of the Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau, told the Xinhua News Agency that in December 2020, only 2,372 out of 4,716 couples who booked online showed up.

The Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau on Monday posted an article on its official WeChat account to explain the various reservation channels and advised "couples who are unable to come, to cancel their reservations and give the slots for others in need."

There is also a penalty for no-shows. People who have two no-show records or five cancelation records within a 180-day period will be banned from making appointments for six months.

Marriage and divorce have become hot topics on Chinese social media amid the declining marriage rate and rising divorce rate. Data released in September 2020 by the National Bureau of Statistics showed the marriage rate dropped to 0.66 percent, the lowest in 10 years, while the divorce rate stood at 0.34 percent.