Int’l Women’s Day: Mother of Eight Chained by the Neck in China

Blurred Screenshot of Chained Mother of Eight

Dear Friends,

March 8 marks International Women’s Day, in which the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its supposed empowerment of women, who Mao once famously said “hold up half the sky.”  The reality for many women in China, however, is far different.

The disturbing video of a woman, chained by the neck, wearing thin clothing in cold, winter weather, has gone viral in China, sparking outrage.  The woman is shown living in a squalid hut with no door, in the rural outskirts of Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province.  She is said to be the mother of eight children, seven boys and one girl.  The Chinese Communist Party has issued several, contradictory statements regarding the woman – including the allegation that she is suffering from mental illness — leading to skepticism and anger on the part of Chinese netizens.

The plight of this forsaken woman is heartbreaking.  It raises pressing questions.  What is her true identity?  Was she trafficked?  How was she allowed to have eight children under the One Child Policy?   Do the children all have the same father, or several fathers?  Why didn’t authorities in her village protect her?  Why would it matter that she might suffer from mental illness?  Would this somehow justify chaining her around the neck and leaving her in scant clothing in an unheated, open-air hut?  Where is she now?  Are she and her children safe?

The shocking treatment of this woman raises the issue of sexual slavery in China. Because of the lethal combination of son preference and a coercive low birth limit under the historic One Child Policy, tens of millions of baby girls have been selectively aborted or abandoned, just because they were female.  This has led to a situation where there are an estimated 30 to 40 million more males living in China than females.  This catastrophic gender imbalance is driving sexual slavery within China and from the surrounding countries.   

For several years in a row, China has been rated a “Tier 3” nation in the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (“TIP”) Report, because “The [CCP] does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant effort to do so . . .”  Indeed, the TIP report raises the specter of the complicity of officials in sex trafficking.

Despite continued reports of law enforcement officials benefiting from, permitting, or directly facilitating sex trafficking and forced labor, the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of law enforcement officials allegedly involved in the crime.

Did the officials in Xuzhou City know about the mother of eight, chained in their midst?  If they did, why didn’t they help her?  Were they complicit in her abuse?

On International Women’s Day, let us not forget the chained mother of eight, and those who, like her, are victims of human trafficking and sexual slavery, in China and worldwide. 

One fifth of the women in the world today live in China.  The women of the world will not be free until the women of China are free. 

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