Divorce in China: Institutional Constraints and Gendered Outcomes

Despite the increase of gender consciousness in Chinese society and a trove of legislation to protect women, Chinese women are still disadvantaged in divorce courts. Xin He argues that institutional constraints to which judges are subject, a factor largely ignored by existing literature, play a crucial role. Twisting the divorce law practices are the bureaucratic incentives of courts and their political concerns for social stability. Because of these concerns, judges often choose the most efficient, and safest, way to handle issues in divorce cases. In so doing, they allow the forces of inequality in social, economic, cultural, and political areas to infiltrate their decisions. Divorce requests are delayed; domestic violence is trivialized; and women’s child custody is sacrificed. The institutional failure to enforce the laws has become a major obstacle to gender justice.

Speaker:
Xin He
Professor, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

Chair:
Hualing Fu
Warren Chan Professor in Human Rights and Responsibilities
Dean, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

Discussants:
Benjamin Chen
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong
Sida Liu
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto
Kwai Ng
Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California San Diego