The saga of Kim Lee and her abusive, super-star husband Li Yang has finally come to a close with a very satisfying outcome. She was awarded a 12 million RMB divorce settlement, full custody of her children, and a restraining order against her ex-husband (a first for the Beijing court system). Kim Lee has been a driving force behind change for women in China who have suffered abuse from their husbands and her case sets a precedent that will hopefully help more women in the future.
Of course, Lee was only successful because she is not Chinese. I’m not undermining what she has accomplished in a Chinese court system that doesn’t even have laws against domestic violence, but there is no way that is ruling is going to have the far-reaching effects people seem to think it will. Lee had both the ability to flee (a foreign passport) and a circle of support (a culture that supports a woman’s choice to leave an abusive spouse). Chinese wives have neither of those things. While the courts decision to support Lee could lead to more wives receiving freedom and justice from abusive husbands, the amount of women who can practically take advantage of the new precedent is still minuscule at this time. Change comes slowly in China, if it ever comes at all.