Video of Chained Woman Sparks Outrage in China

Officials in China's Jiangsu province say they're investigating her husband
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2022 1:32 PM CST
Viral Video of Chained Woman Sparks Outrage in China
Night view of a street in China.   (Getty/Zhuyufang)

(Newser) – Chinese citizens are demanding action in response to a video spreading online that shows a woman chained by her neck to the wall of an open shack. She had no coat, despite it being winter, and a bowl of food on the table next to her looked to have frozen solid, the New York Times reports. The short video—recorded Wednesday in Feng County, near Xuzhou city—was posted to Douyin, similar to TikTok, by a Xuzhou resident known to share interviews with underprivileged people and those with disabilities. (The account has been deactivated.) In response to the uproar that ensued, officials in Jiangsu province have said the woman with the surname Yang was mentally ill but "has already been treated, and her family has been given further assistance, to ensure they have a warm Lunar New Year."

That statement, giving the impression that mental illness was a just reason for the woman's condition, did little to quell the resulting anger, the Times reports. Viewers were left questioning how the shackled woman came to give birth to eight children, including seven sons, living in a house next door. Her husband, identified by the surname Dong, had posted his own videos of his offspring, always excluding his wife. The family is unusual as most couples in China were barred from having more than two children until last year. In a second statement Sunday, officials said Dong had "used various methods to evade the family planning department's management." They also said he was under investigation for locking up his wife, though the Guardian reports he is "not facing criminal charges."

The statement said the couple were married in 1998, the same year Dong's father found Yang begging on the street. She later "showed signs of mental disability" but it wasn't until last year, after she was violent to the children, that Dong began locking her up, officials said. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Yang is now in a hospital, they added, per the Times. The statement came after criticism from pro-government figures, including Hu Xijin, former editor of the state-controlled Global Times, who said officials seemed to accept the husband's version of events though it was clear the woman had been cruelly treated. "To … turn her into a reproductive tool—is this not illegal?" Hu added in a post on Weibo, where hashtags related to the case were removed. (Read more China stories.)

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