Bigamists be warned: national database aims to catch you out

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 January, 2011, 12:00am

Marriage authorities have announced moves to create a national database in an attempt to clamp down on bigamy.

Shanghai, Beijing and Shaanxi province are among the first regions to pool their marriage records this year in a pilot scheme that should see a national database in place by 2015.

Under the scheme, prospective brides and grooms will be able to check whether their prospective partners were previously married in their hometowns, or whether they have a secret spouse.

Marriage law is cumbersome on the mainland due in part to wedding certificates being linked to individuals' hukou - the household registration that ties mainlanders' to their place of birth.

But the economic revolution has driven a massive migration, taking countless millions from rural provinces into the cities. With a national marriage registry, officials and citizens could check whether a marriage certificate applicant already has a spouse elsewhere. National statistics published in June show nearly one in five mainland marriages now ends in divorce. Although 24.2 million mainlanders tied the knot in 2009, 2.4 million couples separated.

The Durex Global Sex Survey 2005 found 15 per cent of Chinese respondents had had extramarital affairs, lower than the worldwide average of 22 per cent. There was no breakdown between males and females.

A separate survey of urban mainlanders published in the United States the same year found 20 per cent of married men and 3.9 per cent of women had been unfaithful within the previous 12 months. Newly affluent businessmen increasingly see the keeping of a 'second wife' as a status symbol.

Several universities have sparked debate by forbidding students from engaging in extramarital affairs.

The South China Normal University in Guangzhou warned students in August that they faced expulsion if they had a 'special relationship' with a married person. Chongqing Normal University said that students who 'become prostitutes, mistresses or toy boys' would be expelled immediately.

But the warnings appear to have done little to limit the trend.

Last month the Shanghai Daily reported that some student mistresses were signing illegal contracts with married sugar daddies.

One student, identified as 'Sunny Zhang', said she had signed a two-year deal with a 43-year-old businessman after she came second in a beauty pageant.

For 6,000 yuan (HK$7,044) a month, she had to provide sexual services twice a week and was forbidden from having other boyfriends or sexual partners.


A study found that 20 per cent of married men had affairs, compared with this percentage of women: 3.9%