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Interpretation of Women's Rights in a Model Lawsuit
Uploaded Time: 2017-04-10

Yunnan Women's Voice officially launched coverage on March 30 to help the public learn more about the top 10 model lawsuits in relation to the protection of women and children's legal rights and interests, raise their legal awareness and make a full utilization of laws and regulations to safeguard their rights amid disputes with others in daily life.

The top 10 legal cases were jointly selected by Yunnan Women's Federation, Yunnan Association of Female Judges, Yunnan Association of Female Procuratorates and Yunnan Lawyers Association in the second half of last year.

The following are excerpts of one selected lawsuit, which is connected with marital disputes and land compensation fees, and has an accompanying analysis by legal experts.

Excerpt:

Under the arrangement of her family, a young woman surnamed Li, who was found to have an intellectual disability, registered for a marriage license in September 2010 at the Bureau of Civil Affairs in Yiliang County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, with a man surnamed Shi, who was also plagued with a similar problem. However, the two families failed to hold a wedding ceremony for them and didn't allow them to live together because they had a quarrel over trivial matters in the preparation process.

The village where Shi lived and where Li moved her household registration to after their marriage in accordance with legal regulation, granted all its residents, including Li, with 13,800 yuan (U.S.$ 2,000.64) per capita as land compensation fees at the end of 2010. In addition, each local villager received 500 yuan (U.S.$ 72.49) as an annual subsistence allowance.

Li's family demanded she end her marriage with Shi and asked Shi and his family to hand back the amount of money they collected on behalf of Li, when they heard the news. In response, Shi's family agreed to dissolve the marriage between Shi and Li on the precondition that Li's family give them back a pride price and other expenditure totaling 7,000 yuan (U.S.$ 1,014.82). However, Shi's family was reluctant to pass such fees on to Li's family.

After several rounds of legal mediation, the two families eventually reached an agreement, according to which the marriage between Shi and Li was officially dissolved. Moreover, the family of Shi was legally bound to hand back the land compensation fees they had collected on behalf of Li, while the family of Li should give back the pride price valued at 5,500 yuan (U.S.$ 797.36).

Professional Analysis of the Lawsuit

1. Question about the Validity of Their Marriage

The marriage between Shi and Li is under legal protection since it is registered at a local bureau of civil affairs, even though both of them were found to have an intellectual disability and they didn't hold a wedding ceremony. In addition, a premarital medical checkup says that they were entitled to get married but were advised not to bear their own children.

According to legal experts, Shi and Li were not advised to tie the knot and raise their own biological children because they didn't have the ability to live on their own and their children were expected to suffer from underdevelopment of the brain as well. However, their families never considered these conditions and still wanted them to get married and have their own children. Moreover, their hasty marriage was motivated by the intention to claim more land compensation fees and subsistence allowance, which can easily create many unharmonious factors between families concerned.

2. Whether or Not Li Should be Granted Land Compensation Fees

All landless farmers are entitled to receive a certain amount of compensation fees from local authorities. Relevant investigations show that Li no longer enjoys the rights to farmlands and other dividends at her own village after marriage and that her those rights along with her household registration have been transferred to the village of Shi. Therefore, Shi's family should hand back the share of Li's land compensation fees to herself.

3. Whether or Not the Pride Price Should be Returned to the Bridegroom

According to the stipulations of China's Marriage Law, a pride price is legally bound to be given back to the bridegroom under the following circumstances: both parties haven't officially registered their marriage at a department of civil affairs; two sides never live together after their marriage registration; the amount of the pride price has created additional difficulties to the life of the bridegroom's family.

Therefore, the local court ordered Li's family to pay back the pride price it received from Shi's family. Meanwhile, the claims made by Shi's family about the presents and other expenses given to Shi in separate times failed to win support in judgment.

(Provided by Yunnan Women's Federation)