There are times when I’m reading of news in China where the story is so horrifying, I don’t want to continue. But like watching a car accident unfold, of course I stick around to find out what happens. Today was one of those times. I read a story about a mentally disabled man from Leibo county in Chengdu who was bought from human traffickers, brought to work in a mine, and then killed by nine people who were attempting to obtain compensation by passing themselves off as the man’s relatives. I felt sick to my stomach as I read the story, especially when I got to the part where it said that this situation was, in fact, quite common, with over 20 similar cases occurring between 2007 and 2011 nationwide. How was it that someone could have absolutely no regard for another life, that a mentally disabled human being meant nothing more to them than a paycheck?
I’ve read (and heard secondhand) stories of young women who come from poor backgrounds and have a single goal of finding a rich husband to support them, to take them out of and far away from their financial situations. I understand that while the middle class in China is growing, there is still a huge lower-class population, made up of people who will do anything to earn enough money to take away the worries of tomorrow. I don’t believe that Chinese people scam and steal for the sake of scamming and stealing. I believe that for the most part, the people who resort to taking other people’s money do so in desperation, to defy what they believe to be a penniless fate. But I’ve never been more pissed off than when I read this article. This disregard for life is completely different. I don’t care how many billions of people this country has; there’s no excuse for taking another life to fulfill your own.
More than it makes me angry, reading this makes me sad. It’s just an example of how far this country still needs to go. While the GDP and tourism rates may be rising, as well as middle-class income, culturally there is still a long journey ahead. This is also reflected in terms of the justice system. Near the bottom of the article, it talks about loopholes in various laws that allows traffickers to buy and sell human beings. Sound familiar? Here’s a hint: starts with “s” and rhymes with “bravery.” Except in this case, people aren’t just profiting off of manual labor, but off of death. Unfortunately, if you are a man, justice will not be served. The current anti-trafficking law also doesn’t protect adult men: only women and children.
That got me thinking about something else. I wonder if it’s because of the concept of “face,” and that men seem to be more entitled to it than women. Ironically, that also means they are entitled to less protection. Whether or not it’s because they are too macho to need protection (I beg to differ), I’m not sure. But I remembered reading about another law that only protects women. On May 9, 2010, security guard Zhang Hua was accused of raping his 18 year-old male colleague in the company’s dormitory. As the first case of its kind (or first reported case), the judges ultimately were not able to rule it rape, as “rape,” under China’s criminal law, is defined as forcing a female to have intercourse against her will. Nowhere in the law does it mention what happens if a man forces a man to have sex unwillingly. As a result, Zhang was sentenced to one year of imprisonment for “deliberately injuring another person,” as opposed to the three years in jail he would’ve received had he attacked a woman.
There’s so much more I’d like to say on the subject of changes I’d like to see, but for now I’ll just say that I hope I am still around to see those changes with my own eyes. I hope and pray for a country that will provide equal protection for all, and where people will be educated on the value of life, no matter how seemingly insignificant.