Chinese divorce lawyers are complaining that they can’t deal with the huge number of requests from clients to file for divorce since the partial lifting of the lockdown.
This is a pointer to the likely experience many will have in other places at the end of this lockdown, especially in France where reports show a rise in domestic violence since the lockdown began.
Though China’s divorce rate has been ticking up steadily since 2003, when laws were liberalized. More than 1.3 million couples divorced that year, and the numbers rose gradually for 15 years, peaking at 4.5 million in 2018, according to statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs. In 2019r 4.15 million Chinese couples untied the knot.
However, the Covid-19 lockdown presented a scenerio that is contrary to the government’s expectations. The Chinese government had hoped that cooping up couples during the lockdown would actually lead to a baby boom.
The government wanted this to be the opportunity to help offset birthrates that have fallen to a record low since loosening of the one-child policy and the ramping up of campaigns to get women to marry and have children.
Interestingly, many local government areas used the lockdown to put up posters urging couples to get busy in the bedroom to support the country’s desire to add more children to balance the impending shrinking that will hit China.
A banner from a local family planning agency in Shanghai begs; “As you stay home during the outbreak, the second-child policy has been loosened, so creating a second child is also contributing to your country,” in expectation of the fruit of these efforts in seven to eight months. But that’s not likely to be as reports indicate rising conjugal strife in many parts of the country.
Sources say Wuhan is hardest hit with highest reports of domestic violence in February—three times more than what was reported during the same month in 2019.
Feng Yuan, co-founder of Equality, a nongovernmental organization in Beijing says that “Lockdown brings out latent tendencies for violence that were there before but not coming out,” adding that the “Lockdown also makes help seeking more difficult.”
She pointed out that the Police were so busy enforcing quarantines that they were sometimes unable to respond to emergency calls from battery victims, women experiencing violence were not able to leave, and courts that normally issue orders of protection were closed, she says.
It is apparent that the outcomes of the lockdown on families will be mixed. While some will use it to bond and get closer, others will use it to quarrel and fight to death.
Moreover, if experience from the SARS lockdown of Hong Kong is anything to go by, then there’s going to be a rise in anxiety levels post Covid-19.
I think these stories presents us opportunities to at least know what to expect from the countries currently on lockdown or those about to take that step.
Tomorrow, some people will come and be shouting that China did not inform them about post lockdown trauma, that’s why they couldn’t manage their post Covid-19 crisis.
The Chinese government has already budgeted massively for free counseling so people can go see a Shrink or Psychologist to have complete evaluation of their mental health after the lockdown.