Police in China's Jiangsu to investigate husband of chained woman amid online outcry

Online comments say the authorities have been enabling rape and illegal detention.
By Gao Feng and Malik Wang
2022.02.02
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Police in China's Jiangsu to investigate husband of chained woman amid online outcry A woman identified as Yang ***xia is shown sitting with a chain around her neck in a dilapidated hut at a rural property near Xuzhou city in the eastern province of Jiangsu , in a screenshot of a video that went viral on social media.
Video via Douyin
Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu are investigating a man after video of his mentally ill wife chained up by the neck in a rural outhouse prompted an online outcry on the country's tightly controlled internet.

In the video, a woman identified as Yang ***xia is shown sitting in a dilapidated outhouse at a rural property near Jiangsu's Xuzhou city with a chain around her neck, as a friend drops by to ask her if she is getting enough to eat.

"A county-level joint investigation team has visited and investigated Dong ***min and his family members, neighbors, then and current town and village cadres and other personnel, as well as consulting relevant archives and records," the Feng county ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) committee propaganda department said in a statement on Jan. 30.

Local media reports said a man from Feng county identified only as Dong ***geng "took Yang in" after finding her begging on the streets in 1998.

His son Dong ***min later took Yang to the local marriage registry office to make her his wife, raising doubts about her capacity to consent to marriage, and whether local registry officials had made the necessary checks.

"The staff of the township civil affairs office didn't strictly verify their identities at the time of their marriage registration," the Feng county statement said.

Online reports said Yang had since given birth to eight children, and that Dong claimed the reason she was chained up was that she was prone to violence.

The county investigation reported Dong ***min's claim that the chains were only used until Yang's mental state stabilized, but added: "Dong ***min's behavior is suspected of being in breach of the law, and the police have begun an investigation."

It said Yang was diagnosed with schizophrenia following psychiatric consultations on Jan. 30, and is currently being treated with antipsychotic medication, while local officials have been supporting the family with financial and building subsidies.

Widespread dissatisfaction
In an attempt to explain the eight children, the statement said Dong had "repeatedly managed to evade management by the family planning department."

"[We] will conduct an in-depth investigation [and] police have set up a special task force to investigate any illegal acts," it said. "Those suspected of committing crimes with be dealt with."

Online comments showed wide-ranging dissatisfaction with the official response, however, saying the case looked like sex slavery, even though Yang's DNA hadn't been found in any missing persons or trafficking databases.

"Where did she come from? Her biological parents are her guardians and family," Weibo user @gfbbdf wrote. "This man is a criminal. Don't pretend to be confused, okay? This man is raping and illegally detaining a mental patient. This is a case of sex slavery."

@The very ordinary Miss Tang from the Department of Politics agreed: "So you picked her up off the streets, beat her, pulled out all her teeth, then called her insane, then raped and abused her and forced her to have eight kids."

"Oh the chain is justified because she has 'violent tendencies'? Unlawful detention is justified? Oh, don't worry, there's a marriage certificate, because we all know rape can't take place in marriage," the user wrote sarcastically. "Let's keep violence in the family."

"Where the hell is this woman from and where is her family of origin?" @Eat a strawberry wanted to know. "Is it true that her teeth were basically pulled out, like it said on the video?"

"Why would a young woman like that marry a guy in his 40s? Why was she picked up in the first place?"

@All reality is fantasy questioned Dong's claim that Yang was "violent." "Who is saying she was violent, and what proof do you have?"

"So she's so violent she needs to be held in solitary confinement, but she can still have kids?" @Kaysin_BAU wrote, while @Maru_Maru added: "Oh how kind of them to take her in and then have her give birth to eight kids!"

"Do you really not get it?" @Boiled_water_ice_a_bit_of_sugar_and_coconut demanded. "This ... is about sexual violence against a woman with a psychiatric disorder and the illegal detention of a patient who is unable to act independently."

'They only care about their own'
@Ammi_zhang wrote: "This is so scary. This woman is kept in a broken down place and fed cold food in winter ... and her teeth are pulled out like she's a dog. Meanwhile, her rapist is getting thousands of yuan in subsidies and the government even built them new homes."

"This statement buries the important part of the story, shields a rapist and viciously slanders this poor woman!"

@Fu San agreed. "She is not a "mother", she is a woman, and she should be given the decency and dignity due to a woman, and the decency and dignity due to a human being."

@Unexplainable lies wondered what thousands of officials on the local village party committee, county party committee, family planning office, civil affairs bureau, finance bureau, police department and All-China Women's Federation branch had been doing all this time.

"They suck the blood of taxpayers to support tens of millions of civil servants ... yet this poor woman is still chained in a dark house and gave birth to eight children," they wrote. "They only care about their own."

Current affairs commentator Si Ling said it was hard to imagine how the Dong family could have gotten away with having so many children under strict family planning policies that were in place prior to 2015.

"It's hard for people to understand how a family in Jiangsu could have seven or eight children and still get subsidies from the local government instead of fines," Si said. "The government is trying to give the impression that it treated them with humanity, but what's more likely is that it didn't know they had so many kids."

Current affairs commentator Wei Xin said the video had unleashed a lot of public anger over sex slavery and trafficking in China, which he linked to the after-effects of decades of female infanticide and forced abortions under the one-child policy.

"Women have been trafficked on a large scale and been used as sex slaves and birth slaves over the past few decades," Wei said. 
"There had been no fundamental improvement, and with the imbalance of the sex ratio in China, especially the growing number of single men in rural areas, this is only going to get worse," he said.

"Instead of treating him as a rapist, the local government actually seems to have viewed her persecutor as a kind of heroic dad, and helped him out in various ways with poverty alleviation benefits," he said.

"This is about illegal detention and should be investigated for trafficking."

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
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