While some women may celebrate the news that a revised Marriage Law has finally come about, those who expect the law to effectively regulate disloyal husbands and stop them from having baoernai, or co-habiting with de-facto second wives, are likely to be disappointed. After lengthy deliberations and public discussion, the controversial Marriage Law was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress yesterday. Finally, after 20 years, a law explicitly says that it is illegal for married men to have concubines or to live with a mistress. It will provide moral support and also a legal framework for embattled women when they decide to bring their philandering husbands to court. Moreover, the revised Marriage Law allows women to seek financial compensation if there is a 'second wife' involved in the divorce proceedings. But that is pretty much all it has done. Apart from receiving compensation there is not much women can do to stop their husbands from co-habiting with another woman. Gu Angran, deputy secretary of the Standing Committee's Legal Committee, said bigamy was a criminal offence and needed to be dealt with through criminal laws, while baoernai and other extramarital affairs needed to be stopped through legal, moral and educational methods and party discipline. The Marriage Law and criminal code both punish bigamy with up to two years in prison. But few cases are punished in practice. Suggestions such as broadening the definition of bigamy to having lived with a second woman for more than six months or having produced a child together have been brushed aside, along with the demand to make baoernai a criminal offence. There were also hopes that amendments to the 20-year-old law would toughen up measures against domestic violence, which - along with concubinage - is a serious issue in China. But the issue was hardly mentioned in the final draft. In all, the committee failed to produce specific measures to protect women from abuse at home. It even failed to define domestic violence, a term not currently mentioned in the Marriage Law. There are also fears that trying to shore up the institution of marriage by legal means to bring about social stability could infringe individual rights. 'The marriage law should not conflict with individual privacy rights, nor interfere with normal personal life,' said Professor Lin Ping of Zhongshan University's Philosophy Department. But the draft appeared to have struck a delicate balance between different opinions, winning it near-unanimous approval by the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress.