Photo credit: SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng
On November 6, the Chief Justice and President of China’s Supreme People’s Court, Zhōu Qiáng 周强, gave a speech at Tsinghua University that revealed a surprising statistic: 74 percent of divorces in China are initiated by women.
Zhou did not elaborate on when the data was collected, but news disrupted long-held assumptions that Chinese women tend to endure unhappy marriages due to societal expectations and economic pressures.
A “pivotal achievement in Chinese women’s liberation”
Many on Chinese social media reacted positively to the news that women are taking the initiative in divorce proceedings. A Weibo user commented (in Chinese) that the news is “a pivotal achievement in Chinese women’s liberation. It indicates that they are not willing to put up with unhappiness in marriage anymore.”
There are also other signs that women, at least those of a certain socioeconomic class, are becoming more independent in China. In a recent report released by the real-estate broker platform Bèiké Zhǎofáng 贝壳找房, it’s noted that about 46.7 percent of all homebuyers were women in 2018. Driven by fear of unfair loss of assets when marriages fail, a growing number of Chinese women purchased their own homes before marriage, which means a divorce without potential economic ruin is possible.