A court in East China sentences 6 criminals to 8-13 ys in prison for the controversial and tragic case of Fengxian chained woman
Published: Apr 07, 2023 03:14 PM
File photo

File photo

A court in Xuzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, on Friday handed down sentences to six criminals involved in the controversial and tragic case of a trafficked woman in the city to put them 8-13 years into prison. 

The sentence came more than one year after a video went viral on Chinese social media platforms in January 2022 showing a woman (Xiao Huamei) chained in a dilapidated hut wearing thin clothes in freezing winter in Fengxian county, Xuzhou. The video quickly sparked outrage, with many angry netizens demanding help for the woman and an investigation into the case. 

Dong Zhimin, Xiao Huamei's "husband," was sentenced nine years in prison for domestic abuse and unlawful detention, according to the verdict issued by the Xuzhou intermediate people's court.  

Five other individuals were punished for human trafficking with Shi Lizhong sentenced to 11 years in prison, Sang Heniu 10 years, Tan Aiqing 13 years, Huo Yongqu eight years and six months and Huo Defu eight years, they were also fined, according to the court.

According to the verdict, in early 1998, the criminals Shi Lizhong and Sang Heniu trafficked Xiao Huamei from Fugong, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, to Donghai county, Jiangsu.   

They sold Xiao Huamei to a local farmer surnamed Xu for 5,000 yuan ($727).

Xiao Huamei went missing in May 1998 after living with Xu for a few months. She was found in a village in Central China's Henan in June 1998 by Tan Aiqing and his wife and was sold by the couple to Huo Yongqu and Huo Defu for 3,000 yuan. 

Huo Yongqu and Huo Defu then took Xiao Huamei to Fengxian county in Xuzhou and sold her again to a local family surnamed Dong at which point the victim began to live together with Dong Zhimin.

Xiao Huamei and Dong Zhimin gave birth to a total of eight children from 1999 to 2020, according to the court. 

In the early days after coming to live with Dong, Xiao Huamei could basically take care of herself and communicate with people, but she would giggle and look glassy-eyed sometimes, according to the court. 

However, her psychological symptoms worsened in 2017 after giving birth to her sixth child. Since June 2017 until January 2022, Dong Zhimin continued to abuse and illegally detain Xiao Huamei by tying her up and chaining her. During the period, Xiao Huamei lived in a harsh environment without water, electricity and natural light. She often suffered from hunger and cold, according to the court.

This abusive behavior seriously impacted Xiao Huamei's health. Xiao Huamei has been diagnosed of schizophrenia and evaluated as suffering from a second-level mental condition, the court said.