A Chinese man has been ordered to pay his ex-wife almost $8,000 for years of unpaid housework, in a landmark divorce case that ignited a raging debate in China.
Under the country's new civil code, which entered into effect this year, divorcing partners have the right, for the first time, to claim compensation if they shoulder more responsibilities at home.
Wang, a homemaker, demanded restitution equal to $24,700 from her husband after filing for divorce at a district court in Beijing in October.
Wang said she was left to take care of the couple's child and housework on her own, as her husband had "barely cared about or participated in any kind of domestic chores," China National Radio (CNR) reported.
The court ruled that Wang had indeed taken on more domestic duties and should receive 50,000 yuan ($7,700) plus sole custody of the child and an extra 2,000 yuan ($309.64) a month in alimony.
But after local media reported this week that Wang had appealed, originally requesting 160,000 yuan compensation, the ruling sparked an intense online debate about the value of women's unpaid domestic work.
The trending hashtag "stay-at-home wife receives 50,000 yuan housework compensation" earned over 570 million views on the Twitter-like Weibo website by Wednesday.
Many users were disappointed that Wang was only awarded $7,700 after spending five years of her life caring for her family, particularly in the Chinese capital-where the cost of living and income levels are among the highest in China.
In recent years, unequal gender roles in domestic life have been the subject of public discussion in China in the context of a growing feminist movement.
Despite rising levels of education and the increasing economic status of women, these improvements have not been addressed by patriarchal customs, and women are still required to do much of the childcare and homework after marriage.
The new ruling is the first of its kind under China's new civil code, a comprehensive legislative package that the Chinese government and legal experts claim would help protect the rights of individuals.
In effect since January, it contains a clause for a spouse to claim compensation from his or her partner for assuming more responsibilities for the care of children and elderly relatives in case of divorce.
Feng Miao, the judge who presided over the Beijing court case, told CNR that the amount of compensation in this ruling had been determined on the basis of factors such as the husband's salary and the cost of living in the Chinese capital.
The judge said she expects more similar cases to be filed now that the new civil code is in force.