April 30, 2023
Contact: Jeanette Tong
Three weeks ago, Citizen Power Initiatives for China made a submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women concerning the State of Trafficking and Slavery of Women in China.
The submission focused on the “Chained Woman Incident” (also known as the “Xuzhou Eight-Child Mother Incident”) that occurred in Huankou Town, Feng County, Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China. On January 28, 2022, a video on the popular Chinese social media site Douyin showed Dong Zhimin, a resident of Feng County, dressing his children and eating in his room while his wife, “Little Huamei”, was tied to a wall in a decaying hut adjacent to the family’s home in the dead of winter. “Little Huamei” was covered in mud, without proper clothing and her food scattered on the floor.
Following the video going viral, the State party repeatedly attempted to minimize the incident by releasing conflicting announcements to massage the fact that a woman had been kidnapped, trafficked, and chained against her will while giving birth to eight children over the years.
The local Propaganda Department at one point claimed that the victim was lawfully married to Dong, that there was no human trafficking, and that “Little Huamei” had been diagnosed with mental illness. At another point, it stated that she was a beggar, who was taken in by Dong’s late father in 1998, and chained to “prevent her from hurting others.” At the same time, many individual civil journalists were arrested to censor investigations.
Faced with public skepticism, the CCP Committee of Jiangsu province launched an official investigation on February 17, 2022 that established the woman’s identify as a victim of several human trafficking offenses. Six persons were detained for engaging in the trafficking. On April 7, 2023, the Xuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in Jiangsu province sentenced Dong to nine years in jail for the woman’s torture and unlawful confinement. Five others were sentenced ranging from eight to thirteen years in prison for her kidnapping, sale, and imprisonment.
The incident, known as the “Chained Woman” incident, is by no means an isolated case. A study uncovered that Chinese courts have handled more than 1,250 women victims of trafficking sold to men as spouses in different regions of China. Many more instances, such as the story of “Little Huamei,” would go unnoticed if not for social media exposure. The precise scope of the problem is unknown since the State party did not publish comprehensive law enforcement statistics for the fifth consecutive year, nor did it record any trafficking victims or send them to protective agencies.
The submission underscored the fact that the CCP regime has always ignored human rights, especially women’s rights, which are often violated with impunity. This is the deep-rooted reason for rampant trafficking of girls and women in Xuzhou and other regions of mainland China occurring today.
“Trafficking of women has become a widespread crime tolerated by all tiers of government’’ said Dr. Jianli Yang, president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China. “This is a result of many years of the CCP’s draconian one-child policy, the CCP’s overall disregard for human rights, and Chinese traditional discrimination against women. It is critical that we speak out to the UN and general public, seeking accountability and pressing the Chinese government to fulfill its legal obligations relating to human rights, in particular women’s rights.”
All organizations look forward to participating in the UN’s review of China’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women which occurs in May. This is an opportunity to again raise and redress rampant violations of women’s rights that have occurred and continue taking place in China.