China's divorce rate has been growing and extramarital affairs have become the main cause of the splits. To obtain evidence of adultery – to teach partners a lesson or to get more money in the divorce – more and more heartbroken spouses are turning to illicit private detectives.
Waiting, tracking and secret filming has been Afeng's job for the last five years. Neither a police officer, nor a paparazzo, he is paid to catch cheating spouses in the act.
There may be thousands of people who do this job. Even though China has banned private detectives, demand for their services is growing.
Due to the popularity of mobile chat apps, such as WeChat and Momo, extramarital affairs are increasingly common, according to Shu Xin, director of the National Research Center for Marriage Counseling Services, who also leads the Shanghai Weiqing Marriage Company marriage counselors.
Shu told the Global Times Monday that in the cases they have dealt with, 23 percent of extramarital affairs involved these apps, according to the Xinmin Evening News.
He disclosed that extramarital affairs have become the top marriage killer – accounting for 75 percent of divorces, followed by domestic violence and long-term separation.
Getting proof of a partner's affairs can give one a great advantage in divorce proceedings. According to the Chinese Marriage Law, if one party's bigamy or affair leads to the divorce, the unerring party has the right to claim compensation if they can prove the other's misdeeds. In addition, the unerring party can win more support from family members and seize the moral high ground to gain a greater share of the couple's property.
The work is well paid, with Afeng raking in at least 40,000 yuan (6,160 dollars) on each job, but he still finds it hard to take pride in his career. "The feeling is complex. Every successful capture will likely mean a broken home," Afeng told the Beijing Times.