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Divorce applications spike after coronavirus quarantines

As the coronavirus wanes in China, large numbers of couples across the country are filing for divorce after spending weeks at home together during self-isolation. Per the Global Times, the city of Xi’an has seen a record-high number of divorce requests since the local marriage registries reopened on March 1. In some districts, the numbers were so high that local offices say it will take until the end of March to process the backlog.  

According to a Chinese official surnamed Wang, who works at the registration office in the Beilin district of Xi’an, the rise in divorces were partly caused by the coronavirus outbreak, which forced couples to spend a lot of time in close quarters under quarantine, creating an inflammatory environment for marital conflicts. “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,” Wang told the Global Times.

Pear Video, a news portal specializing in video-based storytelling, noted (in Chinese) that the marriage registry in Dazhou, Sichuan Province, also witnessed an uptick in divorce applications recently due to the coronavirus. Lǔ Shìjūn 鲁仕军, the head of the registry, said that since February 24, the office has handled 88 divorce requests. More than 100 couples were waiting for their applications to split up to be processed.

Lu pointed out that young people made up a particularly high share of the couples who filed for divoce at his office. “They tend to make impulsive decisions and refuse to back down when we suggest to them to work through their problems,” Lu said.

People on the Chinese internet (in Chinese) found the news makes perfect sense, saying that marriages were prone to fall apart when couples had to deal with a string of hardships caused by the coronavirus, including significant interruptions to their routines, economic stresses, and increased risk of anxiety and depression. “When couples spend day and night together, it’s hard to gloss over or hide marriage problems. This news didn’t strike me as a surprise,” a Weibo user wrote. Assuming that an uneven chore-splitting around the house is the cause of many arguments inside marriage, another person on Weibo wrote, “Have those newly divorced ever thought about buying dishwashers and robot mops?”

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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.

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