1 Oct 2015

Mother or girlfriend - who do you save?

2:05 pm on 1 October 2015

If forced to choose, would you save your mother or your girlfriend from a burning building?

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A tricky decision - with only one correct answer. Photo: 123rf

It's a classic sticky question in China. And this year, it was a key part of China's national judicial examination, posed to future lawyers and judges. Those who pass the test are allowed to practise law in China.

China's ministry of justice later posted the "correct" answer: exam writers are duty-bound to save their mothers. It would be a "crime of non-action" to choose romantic love over filial duty.

But the answer isn't so obvious to Chinese internet users.

"It is ridiculous to equate the obligation to support one's parents with the obligation to rescue others in an emergency," complained one.

"According to the law, a son must save his mother," explained another. "But the law does not say whether he has to save his mother while other people are also in danger."

Others asked what they would do when facing the burning building question. Most of the time, motherly love appeared to win out.

"Girls are everywhere, but I only have one mum," decided one young man.

"I would definitely save my mother first," said another. "Apart from the legal reasons, my mother raised me. Plus my girlfriend is younger, which means she has a better chance of escaping the fire on her own."

Sadly, we don't get to witness his girlfriend's reaction to his comment.

Interestingly, no-one on the Chinese internet appears to address the sexist nature of the question. Should a woman save her father or her boyfriend first? Something for the future judges and lawyers to write about in next year's exam, perhaps.