China sees spike in divorces & domestic violence cases after Covid-19 lockdown

Marriages have become another casualty in the coronavirus pandemic.

Matthias Ang| April 01, 01:23 PM

Even as the Covid-19 lockdown eases in China, a consequence of the outbreak has been a spike in the rates of divorce and domestic abuse, Bloomberg reported.

Both state media Global Times and the government of Miluo city in Hunan province reported that Miluo and Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, hit a peak in divorce rates for the month of March.

In addition, the months of February and March have also seen a surge in cases of domestic violence, the Sixth Tone and Global Times further reported.

Chinese cities see peak in divorce rate

In Xi'an, the Global Times stated that the Xi'an's marriage registration offices have seen an "unprecedented" number of divorce filings since they re-opened on March 1.

Although the total number of divorces was not reported, one office saw up to 14 divorce appointments on March 5, a figure that was highlighted as the upper limit of the office.

Another office, which had a service limit of five divorce appointments, reported that it had no vacancy for divorce appointments from March 7 to March 18.

Meanwhile, Miluo city reported that it had 206 divorces, from February 10 to March 19, with a maximum rate of 18 divorces per day.

An official at Miluo's Marriage Registration Centre stated that there are times when the staff have no time to drink water, given that a divorce procedure takes an hour and 40 minutes to complete.

An official from a Xi'an marriage registration office, surnamed Wang, explained that the lockdown had likely exacerbated underlying tensions in many marriages.

He said:

"As a result of the epidemic, many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month, which evoked the underlying conflicts, adding that the office had been closed for a month, therefore the office has seen an acutely increasing divorce appointment."

Domestic violence surge

Wan Fei, the founder of an anti-domestic violence non-profit organisation in Jingzhou, Hubei, said that reports of domestic violence had almost doubled since Chinese cities were placed under lockdown, Sixth Tone reported.

Wan highlighted that the police station of Jianli county in Jingzhou had received 162 reports of domestic violence in February alone -- an increase of more than three times compared to the 47 cases reported in the same month in 2019.

The Global Times reported that as of Mar. 6, Wan's organisation had dealt with over 300 cases in Jianli county and Qianjiang city since Wuhan was first place under lockdown on January 23.

Loss of income, trapped at home and a lack of response by authorities

In explaining the causes for the rise in domestic violence, he said that people spending too much time at home and the loss of income had been major factors.

"The epidemic has changed people's lifestyle; people spend too much time at home and there has been inconvenience for their lives. The second factor is the economic loss. The epidemic has weakened most people's psychological endurance capacity."

Wan was echoed by Feng Yuan, the founder of a Beijing-based NGO focusing on gender violence, who stated, as per Bloomberg, "Lockdown brings out latent tendencies for violence that were there before but not coming out."

She added that there was also a lack of response by the authorities to cases of domestic violence given that the police were too busy enforcing the lockdown while the courts that issued protection orders were closed.

Top image from Global Times