• Many Chinese women face abuse in sham marriages with homosexual men.

Many Chinese women face abuse in sham marriages with homosexual men. (Photo : Getty Images)

These women, or called "tongqi," unknowingly marry men who are secretly gay. Many homosexual men resort to marrying women and bearing offspring to heed to pressure from family.

An anonymous woman, with the pseudonym Qing Feng, is in her 40s and just ended her 13-year marriage to a gay man. According to her, she and her husband had not had sexual intercourse since their son was born.

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Before the divorce, all the couples' assets were transferred to his parents and he has custody of their son.

Qing said, "He said I wouldn't get a penny or the custody of my son because I asked for a divorce without evidence to show he was wrong. He was well prepared for the day of the divorce. He had transferred all our assets to his parents."

Yang Shaogang, a Shanghai-based lawyer who is experienced in gay-straight divorce cases, said that many Chinese men conceal their sexual orientation and collecting evidence can be difficult.

These homosexuals are not punished by the law nor does the law provide protection to the victimized women.

According to Zhang Beichuan, a retired professor with Qingdao University Medical School, there are 20 million gay men in China who are in "fake marriages."

The increasing number of women who fall into abusive marriages are pushing more people to speak out. Women are now demanding for equal rights now than two years ago.

He said, "Tongqi's cries of marriage misery represent the development of society and women's awareness of equal rights; it also reaches the physical and mental limit that wives of gay men can tolerate."

Because of the law's inability to protect women and society's bias against divorced individuals, many women prefer to play the charade of a marriage, according to the professor.