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Xuzhou mother: Video of chained woman in hut outrages China internet

Image source, DOUYIN

A video of a Chinese mother of eight children locked up in a village hut with a chain around her neck has sparked outrage and shock in China.

The video on Douyin, which owns TikTok, was shot by a man who visits the woman, and is visibly shocked at what he sees.

After bringing her warm clothes, he asks her several questions but she is unable to answer properly.

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The video has gone viral with Chinese netizens demanding authorities intervene to help her.

Many have also discussed the abuse of women and their limited rights in China’s rural areas, and questioned the circumstances under which the woman in Xuzhou in eastern Jiangsu province gave birth to her eight children.

They’ve asked how this escaped the notice of local authorities, given China’s strict family planning restrictions.

In the video, the woman appears dazed and unable to comprehend questions from the vlogger, who asks her repeatedly if she feels cold. She’s dressed in only a light layer of clothes despite the freezing winter temperatures.

Since being posted on Friday, the video has prompted fevered discussion about human trafficking in China’s impoverished rural areas – despite the scant details available on this particular case.

Many netizens drew comparisons to a 2007 Chinese film Blind Mountain, which tells the story of a young woman who is kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Authorities put out a statement on Friday dismissing any speculation about abduction. They identified the woman by her last name Yang, from Feng County Huankou Township.

They said she had married her husband, identified as Mr Dong in 1998, and had been diagnosed with a mental health illness. His family had told local authorities that Ms Yang often had violent outbursts.

But the response from officials further angered netizens who criticised authorities for not addressing the issue of her detainment, the use of the chains, and her overall welfare.

That prompted a second statement from authorities on Sunday, which contained more information about the family’s history.

Officials said they were now investigating her husband.

“Dong is suspected of violating the law. The public security authorities have launched an investigation into it,” the statement said, according to local media reports.

They added that Ms Yang was now in hospital for treatment and her children had been taken into state care. Officials said she had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

However, public anger over the situation has not abated with netizens demanding local authorities take greater responsibility.

“She is a person, not an object. After having eight children over 20 years, she is only to be found today? None of the government departments and judicial bodies involved in are innocent,” wrote one user.

Online discussion of the case has been heavily censored since it flared up on Friday. Authorities have removed many posts discussing human trafficking and censored one key topic phrase “Xuzhou Eight Children”.

But it has retained the topic “Authorities Statement published re Xuzhou Feng County Woman with 8 Kids” which saw more than 190 million views and 56,000 comments on Monday alone. Much of the discussion is critical of local officials’ responses.

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