Update: Husband who chained wife in hut charged with illegal detention; two suspects held for alleged people trafficking
Published: Feb 08, 2022 01:17 AM

Authorities in Xuzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, reported on Thursday that the woman who was found chained to a village hut has been identified as a missing person from Southwest China's Yunnan Province. Two suspects in the alleged trafficking of the woman have been found, and the woman's husband who confined her in the hut has been charged with illegal detention. The three suspects have been placed under criminal compulsory measures.

A video of the woman locked up in a hut in the suburbs of Xuzhou's Fengxian county wearing thin clothes in freezing winter has recently gone viral on Chinese social media, infuriating the Chinese public who is demanding help for the woman and an investigation into the case. 

An announcement of Xuzhou authorities on Monday suggested that the woman was identified as Xiaohuamei from Yagu village in Yunnan. Her parents passed away and, as her relatives and villagers recalled, she got married in 1994 and after two years she divorced and returned to the village. She later showed abnormal speech and conduct.

A villager surnamed Sang took Xiaohuamei to Jiangsu for medical treatment, the notice said. Sang told the police that she was entrusted by Xiaohuamei's mother to take her to Jiangsu for treatment while looking for a good family to marry her. 

However, after the two arrived by train in Jiangsu, Xiaohuamei got lost and Sang never reported it to the police nor did she inform Xiaohuamei's parents. 

The results of a follow-up investigation released on Thursday suggested that Sang and her husband are suspected of trafficking, and are now under criminal measures.   

The investigation team has organized medical experts to evaluate Xiaohuamei's schizophrenia and has conducted a comprehensive treatment. Her mental condition is now stabilized and other health indicators returned normal.

The DNA identification by Nanjing Medical University Forensic Institute suggests that Xiaohuamei and her husband, surnamed Dong, are the biological parents of the eight children. 

Local authority has given Xiaohuamei's family subsistence allowance to guarantee their basic living needs. Educational departments will also provide financial aid to ensure the children's right to education. Guardianship of the children will further be determined based on dealings with the case.

Local disciplinary officials are examining the case for evidence of negligence of duty in this matter.

The video of the locked-up woman was first released online on January 28. In the video, the woman was wearing light clothes with an iron chain placed around her neck confining her to a hut with no door that exposed her to the freezing winter. 

A previous notice issued by Xuzhou authorities said that the woman married Dong in 1998 and no child abduction was found in the case. Her relatives and neighbors recalled that the woman suffered from a mental condition and would beat up elders and children with no reason.