Last updated on Jun 10th, 2021 at 05:20 pm

For too long the value of housework has gone unnoticed, but all that is about to change, particularly in China…

In a case that has been dubbed a “landmark ruling”, a Chinese man has been ordered to pay his ex-wife almost $8,000 (just under R120 000) for years of unpaid housework. The ruling was made by a Beijing Court, giving the woman (who has only been identified by her surname, as Wang)  compensation for the work done in the past, as well as a monthly child maintenance fee of $300 (just over R4300).

The case has caused much debate online with many commenting on the value of domestic work. Some even believe that the amount paid was not enough.

China’s introduction of a new civil code gave way to this historical ruling. The code which was implemented this year, gives divorcing spouses the right to request compensation if they took on the bulk of responsibilities at home.

In the past, divorcing spouses could only request such compensation if a prenuptial agreement had been signed, an uncommon practice among the Chinese.

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Housework compensation

According to CNN, housework compensation is designed to offer an extra layer protection to spouses who have undertaken more domestic chores while sacrificing opportunities to advance their career or education.

In a February 4 court statement, ex-wife Wang filed a claim for extra compensation for housework and childcare duties against her husband who was identified by his surname, Chen.

In her court statement, Wang described how during her five year marriage she “looked after the child and managed household chores, while her husband, Chen did not care about or participate in any other household affairs besides going to work”.

Beijing’s Fangshan District Court ruled in her favour, ordering Chen to pay his ex wife monthly alimony of $300 (just over R4300), as well as a once-off payment of $8000 (just under R120 000) for the housework she undertook.

When news of her appeal made headlines in local media, as she was claiming three times what was ordered in the ruling, social media went to a frenzy over the worth of domestic work.

The trending hashtag “stay-at-home wife receives 50,000 yuan housework compensation” gained over 570 million views on platform Weibo  by Wednesday and Twitter had also got wind of it with many contrasting views.


Covid 19 laid bare another inequality and could set women back by years.

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Chinese women spend nearly four hours a day on unpaid work which is roughly 2.5 times more than men.


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