U.S.-Asia Law Institute blog, Volume 1, Number 22
Published on 13 May 2021
Why do so many Chinese women suffer or even die from domestic violence? Why are personal safety protection orders rarely issued? Why are women still at a disadvantage in Chinese divorce courts when property is divided and child custody is awarded? Why are the laws protecting women’s rights not well implemented?
Based on extensive fieldwork and interviews in various court settings over more than a decade, I argue that institutional constraints to which Chinese judges are subject, a factor largely ignored by the existing literature, play a crucial role in generating outcomes unfavorable to women. The bureaucratic incentives of the court distort the implementation of the divorce law. Judges are responding to two sets of interrelated institutional constraints: efficiency concerns and stability concerns.
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