China has told women to uphold “family values” in an updated gender law, the latest sign females are facing growing pressure to adopt domestic roles in the world’s second-largest economy.
An amendment to the Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Act passed by the nation’s top legislative body on Sunday introduced a list of moral standards for women to observe.
“Women should respect and obey national laws, respect social morals, professional ethics and family values,” says the law’s opening chapter, which outlines the overarching principles of the revised legislation.
It would be adopted from next year.
As China grapples with record-low birthrates and plummeting marriage numbers, women are coming under pressure to revert to traditional caregiver roles.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said it was crucial for women to be “good wives and mothers” to ensure the “healthy growth of the next generation” in a 2013 speech.
“China is attempting to use laws to regulate and discipline women,” said Liang Xiaowen (梁曉文), a New York-based feminist and lawyer.
“Why do you only need women to observe family values? What kind of family values are we talking about? These are very vague ideas,” she said.
Other revisions tackled sexual harassment and discrimination, with the updated legislation banning employers from passing over women for promotions due to their marital or pregnancy status.
It also requires lower-level governments to report the suspected abduction or trafficking of women to police in a timely manner.
Liang called these developments “a step forward” for women.
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