'Second wife' set to be outlawed

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 12:00am

The controversial amendment draft of the Marriage Law which will outlaw baoernai - having 'second wives' - is expected to be passed on Saturday, according to Xinhua.

It is among several drafts to be reviewed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which convened yesterday.

One of the major changes to the Marriage Law is a clause prohibiting married men from having concubines or living with a mistress.

It is more explicit than previous clauses, talking of 'against bigamy, against a married person to cohabit with somebody' instead of 'against bigamy, against behaviour that is not conducive to monogamy'.

'The new change further clarifies the legal responsibility of bigamy and baoernai [having a concubine],' Xinhua quoted Gu Angran, deputy secretary of the Standing Committee's Legal Committee, as saying. 'Many members felt that 'the behaviour that is not conducive to monogamy' is too vague and needs to be specified.'

He said bigamy was a criminal offence and needed to be dealt with through criminal laws while baoernai, and other extra-marital affairs, needed to be stopped through legal, moral and educational methods and party discipline.

One of the changes included earlier in the Amendments Draft allows wives to receive compensation when divorced in favour of a concubine, or when their husbands are living with a mistress.

Another change involves army officers' marriages. At present, spouses cannot divorce without the officer's consent. Under the new clause, the spouse does not have to seek consent if 'the army officer has made major mistakes'.