China’s ‘Mistress Killer’ Helps Cheated Wives Deal with Adultery

‘Mistress killer’, ‘China’s top ladies’ detective’ or ‘Terminator of extramarital affairs’ are just some of the nicknames that Zhang Yufen has earned during the 15 years she has dedicated to helping cheated wives gather evidence on their husbands’ affairs and helping them exact revenge on their mistresses.

Zhang Yufen’s war on adultery is fueled by her personal experience. During the late 90’s her husband, who worked in the district taxation bureau in the city of Xi’an, started having an affair and eventually told her that he was seeing someone else and didn’t want her anymore. He took their most valuable possessions, cleaned out their joint bank account and he was gone. The news was devastating and Zhang remembers curling up on the couch and crying for a week. But after the news finally sunk in, she decided that the only way to receive justice was to track down her husband and his mistress and gather evidence about their affair. Little did she know that she would spend the rest of her life doing the same thing for other cheated wives.

Zhang spent five long years tracking down her husband multiple times, as he moved to different locations every time he caught her snooping around. But in 2007, after gathering enough evidence about his infidelity, she was finally granted a divorce and became entitled to a payout from her former spouse. At that point, she had already made a name for herself as a detective helping other wives expose their cheating husbands and their mistresses.

Soon after she started stalking her husband, Zhang Yufen was approached by another woman, who told her that her son-in-law was cheating on her daughter, and she had already tried taking her life. The detective agreed to help her, but by the time she went to see the young woman about her problem, she had already killed herself. When she asked her mother why she didn’t sue her son-in-law, the woman said that without conclusive evidence of his affair, she had no chance in court. That’s when Zhang realized that a lot of married women faced the same problem she did, so in 2003, with the help of nine female friends, she founded the Phoenix Detective Agency.

She only charged clients for basic expenses and in turn helped them gather evidence about their affairs, and also exact revenge on the mistresses. This was during the “golden age of mistress beating” when police was reluctant to get involved in family business, and she and scorned wives could beat and shame exposed mistresses in public.

The first time she physically abused a mistress was when helping a client. “We beat the woman into the middle of the street, causing a traffic jam. There were lots of people standing there, watching us beat the woman,” she recently told Global Times. When police arrived, she went straight to them and told them that the victim had seduced another woman’s husband. “The police officer told me that he ‘didn’t see what’s happening.’ When I heard this, I knew it’s OK. So I kept beating the mistress. I quite miss the past,” Zhang added.

Even though today police are less likely to stand by while Zhang Yufen and her scorned clients abuse and shame mistresses publicly, she insists that mistress-beating is therapeutic for wives. “Those who don’t dare to beat will develop diseases including esophageal cancer, uterine cancer, lung cancer,” she claims, adding that beating mistresses helps wives vent their anxiety and emotional pain.

Today, 59-year-old Zhang Yufen runs the Alliance Against Mistresses, an organization that offers betrayed wives detective services and advice on how to deal with adultery. The means she uses to gather evidence on cheating husbands are rudimentary but effective. Hiding behind trees and lamp posts during long stakeouts and following suspects on foot and by taxi are some of the most popular techniques used by Zhang and her colleagues.

But while they get the job done most of the time, gathering clear evidence of infidelity, the corruption in the Chinese justice system often prevents cheated wives from reaching their goal. Zhang Yufen claims that irrefutable evidence is often thrown out of court by judges sympathetic to the cheating husbands, or bribed by them, and she even recalls cases where the evidence was mysteriously lost by court officials.

The economic boom that started in China during the 90’s has made adultery one of the country’s most widespread social problems, with state officials considered the worse offenders. After their divorce, Zhang Yufen confronted her ex-husband, asking him why he had turned his back on 16 years of marriage. “He said: ‘Everyone in the taxation bureau had a mistress. I would have lost face if I didn’t have one,'” she recalls.

Despite being threatened with violence and arrest, Zhang  Yufen doesn’t plan on stopping her mistress hunting activity anytime soon. She considers her organization one of the few tools available to Chinese wives looking for justice. To get compensation in a divorce, they need to present evidence of adultery, but no one is willing to help them do it. That’s where the “mistress killer” comes in.

Sources: Global Times, The Washington Post, China Daily

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