Authorities in central China's Hunan province have launched an investigation into a case in which a mother was sent to a labor camp after petitioning for justice for her daughter who was raped and forced into prostitution at age 11.
The Re-education Through Labor Center in the city of Yongzhou sent 39-year-old Tang Hui to a labor re-education camp for 18 months on Aug. 2, which quickly sparked concern and anger online, prompting local authorities to look deeper into the case.
"We will further investigate the case and make corrections in accordance with the law," said Liu Xianhua, head of an investigation team with the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Communist Party of China Hunan Provincial Committee.
"Those who are found to be involved in violations of laws and disciplines will be punished sternly," he said.
In October 2006, Tang's then-11-year-old daughter was kidnapped, raped and forced into prostitution. She performed over 100 sexual acts before being rescued on Dec. 30, 2006.
On June 5 this year, the Hunan Provincial Higher People's Court sentenced two of the defendants to death. Four others were given life sentences and another one received a 15-year term.
Before and after the sentences were handed down, Tang had repeatedly petitioned for justice in front of government buildings and sought the death penalty for all seven people who were charged with forcing her daughter into prostitution.
She was sent to a labor camp because "Tang was dissatisfied with the verdicts and her petitions have seriously disturbed the social order and exerted a very negative impact on society," the Yongzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau said in a statement.
A FAMILY'S NIGHTMARE
"Although six years have passed, our daughter's physical and mental states are still in poor condition," said Tang's husband, preferring to have his name withheld.
"What we worry most about is our daughter, who still has psychological obstacles when she faces men," he said. "I am so afraid that she will break down after learning about her mother's condition."
Tang's husband told his daughter that her mother had fought with him and decided to leave home for a while.
It has been difficult for the man to face his 17-old-daughter, who was left infertile by her experiences six years ago.
Moreover, his daughter's life-long medical expenses means a huge economic burden on the family.
"I am so anxious about when her mother will be released from the labor camp to accompany her and relieve her of the past nightmare."
Public outcry for justice
Nearly 700,000 posts on Sina Weibo, China's most popular Twitter-like platform, were about this topic. Most of them expressed sympathy for Tang Hui and appealed for justice.
On Wednesday morning, Tang's two attorneys presented an application to the Hunan provincial Re-education Through Labor Commission to release Tang.
If Tang's appeals were unreasonable, relevant government agencies could have rejected them. But sending her to the labor camp could only aggravate the contradictions, said Gan Yuanchun, Tang's lawyer.
Before she was sent to the labor camp, Tang was gradually calming down. She planned to open a flower shop and started outfitting her store in July.
On Aug. 2, she was sent to the labor camp without being given any information or a chance to consult her attorneys, Gan said.
"It was a decision similar to pouring oil on flames, which will lead to further mutual distrust between the government and the public," Gan added.
Even if Tang had exhibited such radical behavior, government agencies should still show concern for the poor mother's pain and sorrow, "Yushizaitu" wrote on Sina Weibo, China's most popular Twitter-like platform.
The victim and the family should express their demands in lawful and reasonable ways, while the government should try its best to understand their radical behavior, to some extent, the netizen wrote.