Kim Lee, an American woman living in China, has had her divorce go viral through social media circuits. The Chaoyang District's People Court has just confirmed the divorce is now official, but would give no further information. Ms. Lee's divorce captured global attention when she posted photos of her alleged injuries from her husband.
Attorney Qi Lianfeng, Ms. Lee's divorce lawyer, suggested that the divorce case broke new ground for victims of marital abuse in China. He believes that by the court recognizing mistreatment in Ms. Lee's marriage other woman will be encouraged to protect themselves legally. Women in China are considered subservient to their husbands and cases of domestic abuse have been kept out of the public eye.
Ms. Lee has quickly become a folk heroine to many. She has broken through the silent barrier of domestic violence and has offered hope for others in a similar situation. In China domestic issues, including abuse and violence, have been considered private and belief has been that family conflicts should not be public.
Her divorce quickly gathered momentum on the internet due to her marriage to a high profile celebrity-entrepreneur, Li Yang, and the graphic nature of the photos. Ironically Li Yang is the founder of Crazy English. Pictures reported on the internet include bruises on her knees, a bump on her forehead and a bleeding ear.
Ms. Lee was awarded a divorce based on the grounds of abuse, the first time in Beijing (China's capital). Mr. Yang has also had a restraining order issued against him for three months. Mr. Li, a multimillionaire, had been previously on television stating that domestic violence was acceptable in China.
The settlement Ms. Lee is to receive has been a point of controversy. The court had failed to uncover all of Mr. Yang's assets and as result the monetary settlement is lower than normally expected. Ms. Lee will be receiving $1.9 million and an annual fixed amount until her daughters reach the age of eighteen.
Ms. Lee stated what gave her the courage to follow through on the divorce was her daughters. She wanted to demonstrate that she was strong. As the divorce became well known she became a type of spokesperson for many women who were not able to speak out. Two days before her divorce she received over one thousand messages from complete strangers sharing their own stories of abuse and words of encouragement.
The path to finalizing her divorce was grueling. People in positions of authority outright told her to give up, men would curse at her in the streets, police officers were reluctant to document her abuse and the court seemed to make delays. On one of her trips to report abuse to police she received the response "This isn't America".
The China Daily has reported that Ms. Lee will continue to reside in China. Her willingness to continue her life across the globe stems from her children having created a life for themselves overseas.