Kiss and tell can sometimes be profitable. In a bizarre twist, China’s cheating husbands appear to be fueling a whole new industry, which takes the mistress out of a rocky marriage.
Known locally as “mistress dispelling”, this emerging sector has seen an array of companies sprout up dealing in marriage guidance, such as Weiqing Love Hospital.
Business has been brisk for the firm based in Shanghai, which has taken PR, or private relations, to a whole new level, according to the BBC.
Quite simply, Weiqing Love Hospital helps rejected wives shake off the mistresses in their relationships. Tens of thousands of dollars can be forked out by clients, which are mostly wives, to end the affairs of their cheating spouses.
For Ming Li and Shu Xin, this can be an incredibly lucrative business. The “mistress-busters” are co-founders of the Weiqing Love Hospital, which was set up 17 years ago.
They claim to have seen more than a million clients since opening their doors and have carried out more than 100,000 “dispellings,” according to media reports.
“We have 33 ways to dispel a mistress,” Shu told the BBC. “In marriage there are all kinds of problems. And one is having an affair. It’s very serious, bad for the family and bad for the stability of society.”
She then listed some of the techniques used by the company.
Many resemble the plot lines of a romantic novel or what Hollywood once called “chick flicks”.
One ruse is to set up the mistress so she falls in love with someone else. “But many are business secrets,” Shu said. “We can’t talk about them in the media.”
“Mistress dispelling” services are not cheap and can cost up to 1 million yuan (US$150,00). But there are plenty of clients out there willing to pay as infidelity rates are on the rise.
“It’s expensive but it was worth doing this as I still love my husband,” said one married woman, who wished to remain anonymous.
Having a mistress is considered a status symbol in China and a “must-have” accessory for ambitious men.
This is reflected in divorce rates which are are soaring. Last year, there were more than 3.6 million, an increase from 2.5 million in 2009 and 1.2 million in 2000, official statistics revealed.
The costs of separation are often borne disproportionately by women, who rarely receive an equal share of property and finance.
In one survey published in the state-owned media, 95% of officials convicted under President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive had a mistresses. Even China’s oldest communist party newspaper, The People’s Daily, produced “an adultery map”, highlighting where the main culprits were based.
Yet the recent boom in this quirky industry could be explained by a judicial precedent in 2011, which stated that any property brought into a marriage is returned to the buyer on divorce, The New York Times reported.
Zhang Lijia, the Chinese author and social commentator, believes the “phenomenon” is partly explained by that decision.
“They say that the divorce laws were written to make men laugh and women cry,” she said. “Also, outside of the cities it’s seen as shameful for a woman to divorce.”
Whatever the reason, this is a very high price to pay for love.