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China rocked by outrageous photo

Publish Date
Mon, 10 Apr 2023, 3:38PM
Xiaohuamei was abducted from her village and sold several times. Photo / Supplied
Xiaohuamei was abducted from her village and sold several times. Photo / Supplied

China rocked by outrageous photo

Publish Date
Mon, 10 Apr 2023, 3:38PM

A video showing a Chinese woman with a chain around her neck has reverberated around the country and led to the conviction of six people. The harrowing story of a woman named “Xiaohuamei” first made headlines last year when a blogger stumbled across the tragedy.

Now, six people have been jailed over the torture of the woman who was brutally kept in a dirt-floor hut with an iron chain around her neck and forced to have eight children.

The woman, in her 40s, was discovered chained in a remote village last year in a high-profile human trafficking case.

The case led to a crackdown on bride trafficking.

A Chinese court ordered those who sold the woman and kept her captive to between eight and 13 years behind bars.

The woman’s husband, Dong Zhimin, was jailed for nine years for torture in a court in Xuzhou, a city near Shanghai.

Authorities said the woman, known only by the name “Xiaohuamei”, was abducted from her village in Yunnan, about 2000km from where she was found.

She was then sold several times, including once in 1998 for 5000 yuan ($1163), before being forced to marry Dong, with whom she had eight children.

The case caused huge public outrage in China and sparked debate about the status of women in the nation.

The BBC reports that her suffering made headlines in January 2022, when a Chinese vlogger found her chained up inside a dirt-floor hut outside her family home.

In the video, which quickly went viral, the vlogger voiced trafficking concerns, and noted that Xiaohuamei seemed “dazed” and struggled with basic mental function.

A video showing the woman chained to a wall has been viewed more than 2 billion times. Photo / Supplied

Harrowing images showed the woman with a chain and padlock around her neck in freezing weather.

In 2017, Dong moved her out of the family home into the hut, which lacked water, electricity or light. She was barely fed and was tied up with chains and cloth ropes.

The rudimentary shelter was inundated with unhygienic conditions and exposed the imprisoned woman to the freezing cold.

The woman was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.

After her third child, Xiao’s schizophrenia became worse and the Chinese court ruled her husband became increasingly abusive, according to the BBC.

The outlet reported Judge Yao Hui said Dong never got his wife medical help when she was ill and continued to make her pregnant despite her condition.

Authorities initially denied the case was linked to human trafficking, which is quite common in rural China, but higher-level investigations were launched after a public outcry.

The case led to outrage on social media, with many condemning the punishment as too lenient.

“Only nine years in prison for having ruined someone’s life,” wrote one user of social media platform, Weibo.

“It’s far from enough, but it’s proof that the internet is useful,” wrote another. “If so many people weren’t paying attention the issue would have never been settled.”

A consequence of China’s one-child policy – relaxed as recently as 2016 – has led to a shortage of women, due to boys being traditionally preferred.

The resulting gender imbalance is believed to have fuelled human trafficking, according to a United States congressional report.

That has seen young women abducted and forced into marriage in villages where they are greatly outnumbered by men.


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