Second anniversary of the "Woman in Chains" incident: Has she really been forgotten? Second anniversary of the "Woman in Chains" incident: Has she really been forgotten?

Second anniversary of the "Woman in Chains" incident: Has she really been forgotten?

Second anniversary of the "Woman in Chains" incident: Has she really been forgotten?

It has been exactly two years since the "Women in Chains" incident in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. Behind the authorities' high-profile crackdown on human trafficking, the person involved was forcibly quarantined, and her condition is still unknown.

It has been exactly two years since the "Women in Chains" incident in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. Behind the authorities' high-profile crackdown on human trafficking, the person involved was forcibly quarantined, and her condition is still unknown. So, has this "girl in iron chains" who touched the hearts and consciences of more than a billion people back then been really forgotten?

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On January 27 , 2022 , after the footage of a woman in Feng County , Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province being tied up with a chain and in a dilapidated house was exposed, the public outcry against the abuse of disabled women and the pursuit of reporting on the truth of the incident have repeatedly forced the local government to stop. From denial to confirmation, he finally admitted that he was involved in human trafficking.

According to the official investigation report , the victim is Yang Qingxia (formerly known as "Xiaohuamei") from Yunnan. When she was divorced and returned to her hometown at the age of 21 , her family and neighbors noticed that her speech and behavior were abnormal. The following year , in 1998 , Xiaohuamei was trafficked to Jiangsu, where she was "abused" and "illegally detained" by the buyer Dong Zhimin, and her marriage was registered. After giving birth to her first child in 1999 , Xiaohuamei gave birth to seven more children from 2011 to 2020 when her mental condition worsened .

What happened to Xiao Huamei shocked people across the country. The public's anger over this incident was focused on the fact that not only did no one in the village question the identity and experience of the chained woman, but local officials also turned a blind eye and even covered up the truth. According to the first-instance verdict, Dong Zhimin was sentenced to 9 years in prison, while Shi Lizhong, Sang Heniu, Tan Aiqing, Huo Yongqu, and Huo Fude were sentenced to 8 to 13 years in prison and fined for trafficking in women. The Jiangsu Provincial Government also investigated officials who neglected their duties, violated disciplines and laws, and demoted, expelled from the party, dismissed or dismissed relevant personnel.

So, has the Chain Girl incident been dealt with fairly? The government's negligence and inaction are not news in Chinese society, but the incident of the woman in chains gave almost everyone who paid attention to the incident a deep understanding of it. Highly educated middle-class women in the city also feel that gender inequality is happening around them, and the "chained woman" has become an extreme example among them.

In rural China, due to the preference for boys over girls and the one-child policy, there are more boys and fewer girls, and the sex ratio of the population is extremely disparate. More and more women are working in other provinces, making it more difficult for marriageable men in their hometowns to find partners. Therefore, there is a huge market and economic benefits in purchasing brides from more remote places.

Li Ke, a professor at the City University of New York who has conducted fieldwork in Sichuan, said, "Many times, the same woman may be sold many times. Some families who bought trafficked women went to the local government and village cadres and said, I spent so much time. I finally solved my son's marriage problem with a lot of money as a bride price, but the bride disappeared within a few days of her arrival."

Li Ke said that for the Chinese people who urgently need to solve the problem of male marriage, bride price gives "a color of legalization" to potential human trafficking, showing "the huge conflict between private operations and national legislation." 

Is it effective to focus on combating human trafficking?

Human trafficking in China reached its peak in the 1980s , and the authorities' approach is mainly reflected in policy and legislation. First of all, the Ministry of Public Security of China has carried out many special rectification actions in this regard. According to data provided by the department, the number of cases of trafficking in women and children nationwide in 2021 has dropped by nearly 90 % ( 88.3% ) compared with 2013 .

More than a month after the "Women in Chains" incident broke out, the Ministry of Public Security once again announced that it would launch a 10 -month special operation starting from March of that year , including investigating vagrants and beggars of unknown origin, intellectual disabilities, mental illnesses, and deaf-mute disabilities. and other persons, and their identities were checked through DNA collection and comparison . According to official report cards, the police cracked 906 cases in just six months, recovered 1,198 women and children who had been missing and abducted over the years , and arrested 1,069 criminal suspects .

The State Council of China issued the "Notice on Resolutely Combating the Criminal Activities of Abducting and Trafficking in Women and Children" in 1989, and issued three "China Action Plans against Trafficking in Human Beings" since 2008 ; in addition, the "Protection of Women's Rights and Interests of the People's Republic of China" The Law has also been revised for the second time and will take effect in 2023 .

So, have these actions really been effective in combating human trafficking in China? Professor Li Ke believes that the revised Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests has added new measures to combat the crime of human trafficking. In addition to marriage registration authorities, township governments, neighborhood committees, and village committees having an obligation to report suspected criminal acts to the police, hotels and other private institutions must report suspicious crimes. Behavior should also be contacted by the police.

In addition, China’s criminal law was revised last year and is expected to come into effect in March this year . In addition to retaining that the criminal liability for buying a trafficked woman is a fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years (unless the woman is allowed to return to her place of origin according to her will, or if she does not abuse or hinder the rescue, she may be given a lighter punishment), and if she forcibly and trafficked Women who have sexual relations will be treated as rape; this revision also adds the following content: If violence, threats or gathering of people are used to prevent state agency staff from rescuing bribed women and children, they may be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years.

Are the effectiveness of various legislation and policies lasting? Professor Li Ke believes that this remains to be seen over time: "Whether there is concrete implementation during the law enforcement process requires empirical research to draw more reliable conclusions."

Li Ke cited the divorce claims of rural women in China as an example, such as child custody and the distribution of joint property between husband and wife. Although China revised its marriage law in 2001 in an attempt to protect victims of domestic violence, from 2006 to 2011 , "In my case, Among the samples, more than 70% of women complained of domestic violence, but not a single judge in the case supported the victims of domestic violence." Grassroots departments such as public security, courts, and women's federations often fail to provide appropriate assistance or intervention to victimized women.

Li Ke further pointed out that these conditions have not improved since China passed its first special anti-domestic violence law in 2015 . Taking habeas corpus as an example, the number of cases reviewed and issued by the court is only a few thousand, but "around 2022 and 2023 , Chinese courts will handle approximately 1.8 million divorces, marriages and family disputes each year. According to Chinese officials themselves Statistics, such as those from the All-China Women's Federation, show that about 1/3 of families in China experience domestic violence."

Lu Pin, a feminist activist who founded the "Girls' Voice" e-newsletter and the "Feminist Voice" Weibo account in China, believes that these official actions are not just a gesture (propaganda routine) of the government, using their own way to respond to this problem , or to absorb public grievances into their institutional arrangements." At the implementation level, "I have not seen how to allow women to participate in and supervise these actions."

Has the status of women’s rights improved in China?

The "Girl in Chains" incident aroused public outrage across the Internet. Not only did many bloggers publish relevant videos and comments, they even rushed to the front lines and conducted on-site interviews. Professor Li Ke found that "middle-class women who have settled in cities and are highly educated are more interested in feminist topics than ever before."

Li Ke believes that this kind of public participation is of great help in promoting gender equality in China, and more and more people are choosing "feminism" rather than "women's rights" to discuss gender equality. In order to avoid being too politically sensitive, they focus more on the awakening of individual women rather than delving into the social reasons and the role of the government.

Feminist activist Lu Pinze said that there is no difference between "feminism" and "women's rights", but that in Chinese society, people just want to avoid the censorship of speech by the authorities.

Lu Pin said, "People now have a lot of discussions and even a lot of debates. From this perspective, this is a good thing. But if it is to say how much the concept of this society has changed, I think it is difficult. There may not be a very objective view. "Evaluation." She took the bride price as an example. "In fact, it is thrown out as an issue that provokes legal women's rights and turns it into a zero-sum conflict between the sexes. But when people discuss this issue, at least women can hear their opinions." Voice, feelings about the issue of unpaid labor in marriage. 〞

Lu Pinjin said that although it is difficult to see actual changes at the institutional level in China, culturally, more women are choosing different lifestyles and decisions based on their own values. Although these people are not well-known, their impact on future Chinese society may be more profound.

In recent years, Chinese officials have repeatedly emphasized that women should return to the family and even return to their traditional role of having children. When President Xi Jinping delivered his speech at the opening ceremony of the 13th National Congress of Chinese Women, he devoted a lot of space to family concepts such as marriage, parenting and childbirth. According to the New York Times, his deputy Ding Xuexiang also broke the news when delivering his speech. The 20 -year tradition "does not mention the standard statement that gender equality is a basic national policy to promote social development." The outside world has noticed that the CCP’s top decision-making circles are still all male. Where has the so-called “half of the sky” gone?

Lu Pin believes that how women maintain a balance between career and family is an unsolvable problem that exists both in China and abroad: "It's just that under different systems and cultures, how many conditions and resources women have to play and relax are very different." She said He said that after the founding of the Communist Party of China, the people were educated to focus on labor and "not to eat idle food." "Housewives are culturally devalued and have no welfare support and guarantees." For example, they cannot share their spouse's property or welfare. Therefore, emphasizing the return of Chinese women to the family will create a double burden for women.

Professor Li Ke believes that this phenomenon is socialist feminism : "After the founding of New China, for a very long time, the country's official ideology, legislation or propaganda emphasized equality between men and women. The state did not object. On the contrary, it encouraged women to participate in the construction of socialism in the workplace, or in official language, women were called to participate in the construction of socialism." But in recent years, due to the population crisis, the authorities have begun to emphasize that "even if women want to develop their careers, they should not "At the expense of the family". This also shows that the official gender equality has not been truly implemented.

Li Maizi (formerly known as "Li Tingting"), one of China's "Five Feminist Sisters" who was imprisoned by the police for initiating a women's rights event on International Women's Day, pointed out that despite the rise of women's rights awareness among the Chinese people, everyone can still speak in public spaces. There were more discussions, but Wu Yi, a netizen who was concerned about the country's bad habits and tried to visit the chained woman in Xuzhou, was arrested and interrogated by the police. This reflects that the cost of people taking to the streets to fight for their rights is getting higher and higher, and the police are increasingly abusing their power. Crack down on feminists.

Li Maizi said that under such an environment, "Support for Wuyi is more personal-oriented. It is actually very weak to fight against the state machine with one's body. This kind of support is not like an organization before, where everyone has a group of people to pool their ideas. When When social movements become individualized and the connections are not as strong as before, the trauma will be greater." She believes that this situation may also have led to the public's follow-up of the "Women in Chains" incident and the need to hold the government accountable. Ability is greatly reduced. 

Where are the ethics and morals in the "Woman in Chains" incident?

It has been two years since the "Chain Girl" incident. Apart from the official Xinhua News Agency reporting in early April last year that "Xiaohuamei"'s condition was under control after being hospitalized for treatment, there has been no other news from the outside world. Official reports said that Xiaohuamei "can dress, eat, and communicate briefly with medical staff with the help of doctors and nurses," but still has cognitive impairment. Xiaohuamei's eldest son revealed that his mother could recognize him and call him by name.

So, apart from the criminal crime of human trafficking, how to review the "Women in Chains" incident from an ethical and moral perspective? In addition to prompting two professors, Che Hao and Luo Xiang, to debate whether to increase the penalty for bribing a trafficked woman, this case also caused the biggest controversy over why the court did not find Dong Zhimin guilty of marital rape. Article 236 of the Chinese Criminal Law stipulates that anyone who rapes a woman by violence, coercion or other means shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than ten years.

Jeremy L. Daum , an expert on Chinese criminal law at Yale University, responded to this station's interview in written form, saying that from this point of view, "China does not exclude the crime of rape from marriage, but the courts do tend to consider it when trying Marriage is an expression of consent to sexual activity. Separation or filing for divorce gives the court good reason to look further at the question of will."

Professor Li Ke said that there are currently few professionals in China who have conducted research on the issue of marital rape. In addition, the court at the time believed that the relevant case was not established, and it is still difficult to find relevant national statistics. She said that the principle of Chinese criminal law is that the victim goes to court to make a private prosecution, or the public security agency intervenes in the investigation, and then the procuratorate initiates a public prosecution. But "the problem is that if the concept of marital rape does not exist in China, then the public security has no reason to intervene, and the procuratorate has no reason to prosecute." She believes that although the victim can request the police for personal injury, Intervention can only be regarded as domestic violence rather than rape.
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