今日主題:Family relationships-- Divorce: a love story  家庭關係--離婚:愛情故事的終結

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Family relationships-- Divorce: a love story

While the government talks up family values, marriage break-ups are soaring

YANG YOURONG's wife kicks him as they walk upstairs and he falls back a few steps, then follows again at a distance up to the cramped offices of a district-government bureau handling divorces in Chongqing, a region in the south-east. After more than 20 years of marriage, Mr Yang's wife has had several affairs; she is “quick tempered”, he says (she had slapped him earlier, he claims). At the bureau, divorce takes half an hour and costs 9 yuan ($1.40). It is administered a few steps away from where other couples get married and take celebratory photographs. Mr Yang and his wife have second thoughts, however; they return home, still arguing. Most couples hesitate less.
楊友榮上樓的時候被老婆踢了一腳,跌下幾級臺階後又重新跟上,在老婆後面亦步亦趨地爬上已經擠滿人的重慶某區民政局—他們是來辦離婚的。20多年的婚姻 中,楊的老婆多次出軌。“她是個急性子。”楊解釋道,他之前還被老婆扇了一巴掌。在民政局,離婚只需要半個小時,花9塊錢(約1.4美元)就能搞定。而不 遠處就是一對剛領結婚證的夫婦在拍紀念照。楊氏夫婦決定再想想,但回家之後仍然爭吵不休。大部分來離婚的夫婦都沒這麼猶豫。

Divorce rates are rising quickly across China. This is a remarkable transformation in a society where for centuries marriage was universal and mostly permanent (though convention permitted men to take concubines). Under Communist rule, traditional values have retained a strong influence over family relationships: during much of the Mao era, divorce was very unusual. It became more common in the 1980s, but a marriage law adopted in 1994 still required a reference from an employer or community leader. Not until 2003 were restrictions removed.
中國的離婚率增長得很快。這表明整個社會正在發生巨大改變,在過去的幾百年裡,結婚是一件很普遍且持續終生的事(儘管傳統上允許男人納妾)。在共產黨的領 導下,傳統價值觀念對家庭關係仍具有重要影響:在毛時代,離婚非常罕見,到了80年代則變得普遍,但1994年婚姻法的實施,仍規定離婚需要雇主或黨內領 導開具的說明材料,這項限制直到2003年才被取消。

The trend reflects profound economic and social change. In the past 35 years, the biggest internal migration experienced by any country in human history has been tearing families apart. Traditional values have been giving way to more liberal ones. Women are becoming better educated, and more aware of their marital rights (they now initiate over half of all divorce cases). Greater affluence has made it easier for many people to contemplate living alone—no longer is there such an incentive to stay married in order to pool resources.
這一趨勢反映了經濟和社會的重大變革。中國過去的35年經歷了人類歷史上最大規模的遷移,這直接導致了無數家庭的分崩離析。傳統觀念讓位于更為自由的現代 思想。女性受教育程度增加,也越來越意識到她們在婚姻中的權利(如今超過一半的離婚申請都是由女方提出的)。物質條件的改善讓很多人不再擔心獨自生活—— 不必再為共用資源而被迫綁在婚姻裡。

As long as both sides agree on terms, China is now among the easiest and cheapest places in the world to get a divorce. In many Western countries, including Britain, couples must separate for a period before dissolving a marriage; China has no such constraints. In 2014, the latest year for which such data exist, about 3.6m couples split up—more than double the number a decade earlier (they received a red certificate, pictured, to prove it). The divorce rate—the number of cases per thousand people—also doubled in that period. It now stands at 2.7, well above the rate in most of Europe and approaching that of America, the most divorce-prone Western country (see chart). Chongqing's rate, 4.4, is higher than America's.
中國已經成為全世界離婚最容易也是最便宜的國家之一,只要雙方同意即可。在包括英國在內的許多西方國家,夫妻雙方離婚前必須分居一段時間,而中國則沒有此 限制。據2014年最新統計資料顯示,約有360萬對夫妻分道揚鑣,比十年前翻了一倍還不止(離婚的人會領到離婚證並拍照)。離婚率已上升至2.7,跟同 期相比也增加了一倍,該比值已經遠超歐洲,直追美國這一離婚率最高的西方國家(見下表)。而重慶的離婚率則衝破了美國的平均值,高達4.4。

Helped by the huge movement of people from the countryside into cities, and the rapid spread of social media, the availability of potential mates has grown with astonishing speed, both geographically and virtually. But many migrants marry in their home villages and often live apart from their spouses for lengthy periods. This has contributed to a big increase in extramarital liaisons. Married people previously had limited opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex in social situations, according to research by Li Xiaomin of Henan University. Peng Xiaobo, a divorce lawyer in Chongqing, reckons 60-70% of his clients have had affairs.
由於人口大量從農村轉移至城市,再加上社交媒體的興起,在不同地域或不同年齡段內找到另一半的幾率已經比從前大得多。但很多背井離鄉的打工者都是先在家鄉 結婚,然後再和配偶長期分居,因此婚外情的現象越來越普遍。河南大學的李曉敏研究表示,已婚人士在之前的社會條件下遇到異性的機會很有限。重慶的離婚律師 彭小波也表示,他的客戶中有60%~70%的人都有過外遇。

Such behaviour has led to much soul-searching. The notion that “chopsticks come in pairs” is still prevalent; propaganda posters preach Confucian-style family virtues using pictures of happy, multi-generation families. (President Xi Jinping is on his second marriage but this is rarely mentioned.) Many commentators in the official media talk of separation as a sign of moral failure; they fret that it signifies the decline of marriage, and of family as a social unit—a threat, as they see it, to social stability and even a cause of crime. The spread of “Western values” is often blamed.
此舉也給人們帶來了深思。熟語“筷子成雙成對,永不分離”一直深入人心。媒體也用四世同堂的和美家庭圖畫來宣導傳統儒家家庭美德(事實上,習近平主席也是 二婚,但這點很少為人所提及)。官方論及離婚,通常認為是道德風氣敗壞所致。他們擔憂這標誌著婚姻與家庭作為社會組成的意義大幅銳減——正如他們所能預見 的,離婚對於社會的穩定性以及犯罪都是一大威脅。這些也常歸咎於“西方價值觀”的“氾濫”。

But marriage is not losing its lustre. In most countries, rising divorce rates coincide with more births out of wedlock and a fall in marriage rates. China bucks both these trends. Remarriage is common too. The Chinese have not fallen out of love with marriage—only with each other.

It is tradition itself that is partly to blame for rising divorce rates. China's legal marriage age for men, 22, is the highest in the world. But conservative attitudes to premarital relationships result in Chinese youths having fewer of them than their counterparts in the West (they are urged to concentrate on their studies and careers, rather than socialise or explore). Living together before marriage is still rare, although that is changing among educated youngsters. People still face social pressure to marry in their 20s. Their inexperience makes it more than usually difficult for them to select a good partner.
不斷攀升的離婚率部分是由傳統觀念本身所致。男性的法定結婚年齡是22歲(世上最大的婚齡)。但是中國年輕人對待婚前關係持保守態度,這就造成與西方的同 齡人相比,他們中已婚的反倒還要少些(他們被迫關注於自己的學習與事業,而不是去與異性接觸、交往)。婚前同居試婚仍舊罕見,儘管在一些受過教育的年輕人 當中這一趨勢日益改變。20多歲的未婚青年還面臨著社會輿論壓力。再加上,他們經驗不足,更難找到好的靈魂伴侶。

Couples' ageing relatives are part of the problem too. Yan Yunxiang of the University of California, Los Angeles, says “parent-driven divorce” is becoming more common. As a result of China's one-child-per-couple policy (recently changed to a two-child one), many people have no siblings to share the burden of looking after parents and grandparents. Thus couples often find themselves living with, or being watched over by, several—often contending—elders. Mr Yan says the older ones' interference fuels conjugal conflict. Sometimes parents urge their children to divorce their partners as a way to deal with rifts.
夫婦的老年親屬也是他們離婚的誘因之一。來自洛杉磯加利佛尼亞大學的閻雲翔指出“父母促使的離婚案件”也越來越常見。中國的獨生子女政策造成許多人沒有兄 弟姐妹來分擔照顧父母與祖父母的重擔。因此夫妻常常與多個(通常是相互不和的)長輩同住或者受到他們的監視。閻雲翔稱長輩的干擾會給夫妻間的衝突火上澆 油。甚至有時父母會迫使他們的子女與另一半離婚以解決家庭的矛盾衝突。

Women are more likely to be the ones who suffer financially when this happens. Rising divorce rates reflect the spread of more tolerant, permissive values towards women, but legislation tends to favour men in divorce settlements. A legal interpretation issued in 2003 says that if a divorce is disputed, property bought for one partner by a spouse's parents before marriage can revert to the partner alone. That usually means the husband's family: they often try to increase their child's ability to attract a mate by buying him a home.
而當夫妻離婚時,更易遭受經濟重創的一方是女性。攀升的離婚率也反映了社會對女性更為包容的價值觀,但是司法體系更照顧離婚案件中男性的利益。2003年 頒佈的新婚姻法解釋指出如果有離婚糾紛,婚前由一方父母出資為子女購買的不動產會被認定為夫妻一方的個人財產。這通常意味著男方家庭會努力購置房屋以增加 他們求偶的吸引力。

In 2011 the Supreme Court went further. It ruled that in contested cases (as about one-fifth of divorces are), the property would be considered that of one partner alone if that partner's parents had bought it for him or her after the couple had got married. In addition, if one partner (rather than his or her parents) had bought a home before the couple wed, that person could be awarded sole ownership by a divorce court. This ruling has put women at a disadvantage too: by convention they are less often named on deeds.
2011年,最高法院又進一步裁定如果婚後一方父母為子女出資購買不動產,該不動產應被認定為夫妻一方個人財產。另外,如果婚前一方(而不是一方的父母) 購買的房產,那麼該房產應歸購買房產者(產權登記者)一人所有。這樣的判決也使女性處於不利地位:依照規約而言,她們在家庭裡的苦勞、功勞不再像以前那麼 被看重。

In practice, if the couple has children the person with custody often keeps the home—more often the mother. Yet the court's interpretation sets a worrying precedent for divorced women. Their difficulties may be compounded by the two-child policy, which came into effect on January 1st. If couples have two children and both partners want custody, judges often assign parents one child each. Marriage and the family are still strong in China—but children clearly lie in a different asset class.
事實上,如果夫妻有小孩,有監護權的一方一般享有房屋——通常是指母親。然而依照最高法院頒佈的解釋,這項判例令離異女性堪憂。此外,一月一日開始生效的 二孩政策又加劇了她們的困境。如果夫妻有兩個小孩,而雙方都要監護權,那麼法官通常會判決雙方分別撫養一個小孩。婚姻與家庭觀念在中國依舊很強——但是孩 子很明顯地又是另一項資產。


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