Prenuptial Agreements Research - DOC

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					                   The Group Project II of Central College Research Team:
                Building a Bridge Between American and Chinese Cultures:
               Learning Resource from Students’ Research Projects in China

               The Freeman Student-Faculty Fellowship Program, Summer 2002
                        Research Interviews: Transcripts and Notes

                         PART III. WOMEN’S ISSUES IN CHINA

I Cindra Visser’s interview of a Chinese women professor in July 2002
This woman did not speak much English at all. While the interview was rather difficult, I feel it
gave me a lot of good information. This woman had recently been battling breast cancer and had
gone through a mastectomy. This reminds me of something that I noticed in China. There is a
great camaraderie among the women there when they talk and visit. It is the kind of intimacy that
you might find in a large family of aunts and nieces. In my visit there, I noticed that women
would bond into this type of conversational union even when they were meeting for the first time.
It was as if they all understood the pressures and challenges of what it is to be a Chinese woman,
and that brought them together. So, speaking of the breast cancer and mastectomy was not
something that was in hushed tones as it might have been in the US, it was stated more as a fact
of life, and a woman issue.

This professor had been very active in the Woman’s Association before her health problems and
her focus was on changing things through the laws of their country.

What do you feel is one of the main causes of stress in Chinese women’s lives? We need to
protect women’s rights through the law. China has worked on revising the marriage laws, but
more needs to be done.

Farm violence is a major problem:
       Chinese women need a stronger self protective consciousness
          1. Local police are called for help. Police will ask the woman to go to the hospital
              and see a doctor about her abuse injuries.
          2. Police interrogate the husband. If wounds to wife are serious, he is held 15 days in
              jail and fined 200 yuan.
          3. If more serious, then punished by law and sent to prison.
          4. In the case of divorce, if the cause of the divorce is directly violence, the woman
              will receive the larger part of the common estate.

Women’s shelters are seldom seen in China.
          once women go on unemployment , she must come into divorce if there is family
          women's shelter are set up but the husbands come there and say it is illegal for the
             shelter to let their wives stay there.
          husbands threaten to go to court to get their wives back into their homes.
          to set up women's shelters demands a lot of money and many obstacles.
          Because it is a folk organization, the government will not support or protect.

 II Cindra Visser’s interview of the Leader of Rights Protection Department for Women’s
    Association, Hangzhou, July 2002
 This interview took place in a government building. This woman was very cautious and
restrained at the beginning of the interview. As she saw where I was going with the interview,
and that my interest was on the condition of women, she relaxed and we had a wonderful
conversation. In fact, I did not have to ask many questions. She had many thoughts and ideas
that she wanted to share with me, and things she wanted to discuss with an American woman.
Most of the following notes are ideas and information that she shared in the natural course of the

What are the most common problems women call and need help with? Pregnancy and
menstruation problems. Women are allowed to stay home from a job for 4 months after the
birth of a child. The usual amount of time a woman is off work following the birth of a child is 7

The Government Labor Laws make provisions for women
    They may stay home for up to 4 months following the birth to nurse their child.
    Many times they are able to make an agreement with their work unit/company/institution
      to stay home for up to 6 months following the birth.
    For the first year following the birth they are allowed an hour a day to nurse their child.
      Many women take a 2 ½ hour break, adding their lunch break to their nursing hour
      because it takes so long to travel home and return to the office.

Gender equality is the basic policy of the government.
    The government promotes gender equality.
    The traditional view is that the man is stronger than the woman especially in the
      information industry and in intelligence.
    However, in many fields, women are found to be more suitable.
          - doctors
          - teachers
          - service industries: women tend to be more detail oriented, have a more gentle
              personality, more patience and compassion. This makes them more successful in
              careers that require people skills.

Before the liberation (1949 when Communist government won over China), women stayed home
and were not part of the national work force. They entered the work force under Mao Zedong (d.
1976) and were given equal rights in political opportunities and in election processes.

One difference with the US is that China does more in the area of policies that assure protection
of women. American women are stronger in self-statements that help them.

Do you think young Chinese women will get better at this (the self affirmation)? Elder
women lived in a very traditional society. The background was that the government solved all
the people’s problems.

Now, it is a socialist economy, life is much more competitive. People must solve their problems
themselves. They must be more active in their ideas … young women are becoming very good
at this. It is the way of society for both men and women.

Do most communities have a woman’s rights protection station? Yes. There are smaller
towns that do not have an in-town agency, but they have a representative that is a contact for the
women. They teach women how to protect themselves: how to keep mentally healthy and how
to protect their women’s rights. These volunteers that work for the women’s association work
long hours and work hard for the association.

Can you explain how you help to keep women mentally healthy? Mainly, to use precautions.
We suggest to women to go to a counselor with problems in home and work life. We can help
with legal situations in the work place, telling them what is right and wrong, and what their
rights are, but there are situations in their home lives that they need to talk to a counselor about.
Many times there are not many choices for women that live in the country, so talking to a friend
or a representative of the women’s association is the only thing they can do to deal with their
problems, otherwise the problems are not going to change.

Help with divorces:
    70% of women considering divorce come to the Women’s Association for help with their
    We often give information on how to get their portion of the estate on their settlement.
      We also give information on how they can bring up their children as a single parent.

In China, most women work.
     even after a divorce they can support themselves.
     Some women don’t have to work, or live in the country where they do house and farm
       work. For them, life is much harder after a divorce.

Prenuptial agreements are suggested:
    for provision in case of divorce.
    40% of couples use these.
    It is also possible to write these up after the marriage.

What are some other things you would like me to know about the Women’s Association?
Most women think that the women’s association only exists to help women. There are
suggestions that the men in China need a Men’s Association. But the feelings of women are that
men do not need an association to protect their rights, they are already well protected because of
tradition. The women need this to be able to protect the rights that they have only recently been

III Interview (Katharine Dorn and Chia Ning) with male director and two female program hosts
    at Zhejiang Provincial Radio Station on June 19th, 2002 in the director’s office.
What is the ideal Chinese woman like today? Independent and rich in feeling and flexible for
any situation and there are certain rules in their life, but there are certain goals in their life and

rules the will follow. Women do not have to be very strong, they should be soft if they need to be
and she uses the Chinese phrase “use softness to work with ironness.”

The man in this interview agrees with the women and was very sure that women are independent
economically in their feelings they should not rely too much on the man. They can think on their

Is this a different ideal than 20 years ago? The ideas we have heard today are still not very
popular in general society. Their ideas represent the professionals for this class—in the circle of
well educated people. And according to the newest woman, snce 1949 the government had the
policy for the equality. That was the policy and it was not general life and in a large part of the
population they still have an unbalanced way to think of men and women in their relatinship. In
the family, if a woman has an income greater than the husband, the balance in the heart will be

The most important thing is the economical independence and independence in the family. China
is under tremendous change and this change presents a big challenge to the idea that you have to
keep a marriage no matter what in the relationship. By this traditional idea, some women do not
stand strong enough because the family relationship women do not want to give up the
relationship, even if there is an affair or other women. The women are violent towards the
women who try to interfere with their husbands and some women may use… In her programs
she promotes women standing strong to fight this challenge by their ability to carry the pressure

How does she advise the men who start these relationships when they are married? This
topic is common in her dialogue. She comes back to the issue of women’s independence.
According to traditional ideas, a girl marries someone and is with them their whole life. This is
strong still, although not as strong as in the past. Women do not get the idea of independence if
women do not have independence.

Men face the same pressure and they try to advise people to face the reality. People cannot
change reality, but can adjust their view of the change. She gives advice to be active in your love
but to be very careful to the marriage. A very good example in her dialogue, sometimes men call
her to tell her that they have a nice wife and now a nice lover outside of home. Now that lover in
your heart maybe you think she is an angel, but she cannot give a certain answer to the man, but
suggest that there is no perfect angel in this world. Women have to have their own ideas about
what to do. They should go to her husband and tell him how to deal with it.

II Interview (Katharine Dorn and Chia Ning) at Zhejiang Provincial TV Station on June 19th,
Is it legal to have another woman involved with your husband? The legal professionals have
been in very active discussion about how to make the law to deal with the family life and the
relationships. Last year there was serious action in the legal world in China to deal with this
problem but it is hard to find a solution. For example when the 3rd person gets involved in the
relationship, it is hard to find evidence. If they hire investigators, lose the privacy. In the past,
family property would be divided half in half. The person whose fault it was will not get as much
property, this is recent law. Face a lot of problems. For example, the husband has another lover,

you have to show the evidence. In theory the move is toward supporting the one who is hurt in
the relationship, but in reality it is very hard to be in this situation and receive the legal proof.

The latest development in China is in the past few years, 70% of divorce cases are by women,
not by men. So this phenomena says two things: 1) Women’s economic independence is stronger
and theey do not need to fully rely on their husband to protect their life and 2) Women are
looking for the quality of the relationship, and they used to sacrifice themselves for the quality of
life of their children. Is a positive development. This says that women are looking for their
individual rights and shows that the general society has a higher tolerance for divorce.


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