Divorces skyrocket in China amid lockdown

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Divorce rates have increased sharlpy in China as mandatory lockdowns have been put in place aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. 

There has also been an increase in domestic violence reports.

Chinese cities such as Xi’an and Dazhou recorded record-high numbers of divorce filings at the beginning of March, creating backlogs in government offices, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Clerks at marriage registration centers said they processed a record number of divorces in a single day and did not even have time to drink water.

Since Feb. 10, a total of 311 marriages have been registered in the city of Miluo. However, the number of divorce registrations has also reached 206, with a maximum of 18 divorce procedures per day, according to a report out of Miluo.

When asked about why so many divorces were being filed, the city registration center’s director, Yi Xiaoyan, said: “Trivial matters in life led to the escalation of conflicts, and poor communication has caused everyone to be disappointed in marriage and make the decision to divorce.”

A divorce lawyer in Shanghai, Steve Li at Gentle & Trust Law Firm, said his total cases increased by 25 percent since the lockdown started to ease in the middle of March.

Li added that the primary reason people filed for divorces through his firm is that “people have time to have love affairs when they’re not at home,” citing the amount of time couples were forced to stay at home together when they would generally be out.

He also noted the virus hit the country hard in late January, around the time of the Lunar New Year holiday festivities.

He said the extra time spent with families could have been too much for some.

“The more time they spent together, the more they hate each other,” Li said of his recent cases. “People need space. Not just for couples — this applies to everybody.”

A clinical study of stress and psychological distress caused by the SARS outbreak found depression and anxiety in Hong Kong’s general population in 2004 increased by 21 percent from rates in 2002. If the COVID-19 outbreak caused similar stress levels in the general population, it could affect relationships as well.

The government had hoped results from cooping families together would have an opposite effect, as posters in family planning centers encouraged couples to make more kids while citing the “second-child policy” had been loosened.

Police reports in a county along the Yangtze River in central Hubei province, near the epidemic epicenter in Wuhan, received 162 reports of domestic violence in February — three times more than the 47 reported during the same month in 2019.

Despite these reports, some couples are finding happiness from being on lockdown together.

“The home quarantine and social distancing has reminded me how much I love the person I married,” said Rachel Smith, a Canadian artist in Hong Kong who met her husband on a backpacking trip to the city 21 years ago, according to Bloomberg.

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