A Beijing court in a landmark ruling ordered a husband to compensate his wife for the housework she did during their marriage.
The woman will receive 50,000 yuan (approximately $7,700) for five years of unpaid labour.
The ruling generated a huge debate online over the value of domestic work, with some saying the compensation amount was too little.
The ruling comes after China’s introduction of a new civil code.
According to court records, the man identified as Chen had filed for divorce last year from his wife, Wang, after getting married in 2015.
She was reluctant to divorce at first, but later requested financial compensation, arguing that Chen had not shouldered any housework or childcare responsibilities for their son.
Beijing’s Fangshan District Court ruled in her favour, ordering him to pay her monthly alimony of 2,000 yuan, as well as the one-off payment of 50,000 yuan for the housework she has done.
The judge told reporters on Monday that the division of a couple’s joint property after marriage usually entails splitting tangible property. “But housework constitutes intangible property value,” said the judge.
The ruling was made according to the new civil code in the country, which came into effect this year. Under the new law, a spouse is entitled to seek compensation in a divorce if he or she bears more responsibility in child raising, caring for elderly relatives, and assisting partners in their work.
Previously, divorcing spouses could only request such compensation if a prenuptial agreement had been signed – an uncommon practice in China.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Chinese women spend nearly four hours a day on unpaid work – roughly 2.5 times that of men.
It is higher than the average in OECD countries, where women spend twice the amount of time as men on unpaid work.