Controversial safety ad in Shenzhen subway stirs up netizen criticism
Published: Mar 22, 2021 05:56 PM
A screenshot of the advertisement in a subway car in Shenzhen. Photo: Sina Weibo

A screenshot of the advertisement in a subway car in Shenzhen. Photo: Sina Weibo

An advertisement on display in a subway car in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, has recently received a flood of criticism since it depicts every type of domestic abuse just to give a friendly reminder: Construction workers need to keep safety in mind at work. 

The ad was spotted by passengers in a subway car on Line 16. The ad takes the form of a short comic that tells a nightmare story, in which a woman loses her construction worker husband after a work accident. The woman then re-marries, forming a new family for her son, but her current husband abuses the child by physically hitting him, spends all of the pension left to the widow and tells the little boy, "Your father was dumb. He did not care about his life; he just wanted to make money."  

The advertisement has stirred up criticism on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. While some say they feel its intentions were good, others noted that they didn't want to see a safety warning using such a dark immoral context, saying it was inappropriate to take a woman's sad experience after remarrying and the issue of child abuse as an inspiration for a public service announcement. 

"Since when did people start to become crazy about child abuse? It is literally everywhere now to catch people's attention, is it to seek attention?" posted one netizen on Sina Weibo. 

"My husband passed away a few years ago when we were construction workers in Fujian Province and I have raised my girl alone ever since. I will not marry again just for money," said another netizen on Sina Weibo. 

The woman's words were supported by other online users, with some saying that her explanation was a slap in the face of the advertising creator because remarriage is an option not a requirement for an independent woman. 

The project department of a construction company contracted by the Shenzhen Metro Line 16 was listed at the bottom of the advertisement.

This is not the first time the Shenzhen Metro has been involved in controversy. Another ad in the subway car in 2020 has featured the tagline- "Daddy, I want to marry you when I grow up-", which people criticized it was sexualizing girls and making them sound like adults. 

Although the recent ad was removed on Sunday, the issue caused people to reflect on how to stop domestic violence, and what can be done to improve parent-child relationships in a remarried family. 

"In a remarried family, the wife and husband need to establish a peaceful and loving relationship first, so as to increase the children's sense of security. Second, parents need to design some regular family activities, and also guide your child to understand his or her emotions. Let him or her know what particular emotions are behind what he or she expresses," a family relationship expert based in Beijing told the Global Times on Monday.

"Get evidence, film footage and get voice recordings to prove the abuser is harming the child. Then you will have to choose if you want to further handle it as a legal case or look for help to stop it. For the latter, look for people in your community and organizations that focus on domestic violence," a law consultant based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday. 

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