The daughter of a Chinese pensioner has been ordered to visit her at least once every two months, in the first case under a new law to protect the elderly, reports said on Tuesday.
“Leaning on a cane”, the woman, 77, “hobbled to the plaintiff's seats” at a court in Wuxi, which heard the case against the daughter and her husband on Monday, the Wuxi Daily reported.
The law, which came into effect on Monday, was enacted amid rising concerns that China's rapid development has challenged its traditional extended family unit and created a spiralling number of “empty nest” homes.
Reports of elderly people being neglected or mistreated by their children have shocked the country.
The couple from Wuxi, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, had agreed to care for the woman, surnamed Chu, but had not visited since she went to live with her son following a family dispute, the report said.
The People's Court in Beitang district decided the couple should visit the mother at least once every two months, and on at least two of China's national holidays, it added.
It also said that the couple could be ordered to pay compensation if they did not visit.
The Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly says family members should visit relatives who are aged over 60 “often” - but does not give a precise definition of the term.
Experts have voiced concern that the new law will be difficult to enforce, while China's huge army of Web users ridiculed the regulation, with one labelling it an “insult to the nation”.
More than 14 percent of China's population, or 194 million people, are aged over 60, according to the most recent figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.
The United Nations estimates that by 2050, almost 30 percent of Chinese will be 60 or over, up from 10 percent in 2000 and compared with a worldwide average of 20 percent. - Sapa-AFP