(Caution! Texts in red color might be disturbing)
LI SU COULD BE SAVED
– A Petition To Chinese Legislature Regarding Family Child Abuse In China
This is a petition letter to Chinese legislature with respect to family child abuse crime in China. We urge government to take actions to refine the existing child protection law, deprive the custodial rights of parents who seriously harm their children, bring criminals to justice. We appeal government to put effort on establishing official organizations for protecting children. We also urge Chinese government and society to raise public awareness of the seriousness of Family child abuse in China, and the responsibility of society towards children.
20 years ago, in Xining, Qinghai province of China, a 5 year-old girl was tortured to death by her biological mother. Her name was Li Su (苏丽). During her short life, Li had been suffered all kinds of mental and physical abuses, included verbal abuse, beating savagely and starving. More horrendously, not only once, Li's mouth was sewn together with needle and thread. One day when Li was 5 year-old, due to tremendous hunger she begged for foods, but what her “mother” did to her was feeding her with hot boiling cooking oil. After this astonishing torture, the “mother” did not send her daughter to hospital, instead, she continued physically abusing her for days, until Li finally died of unimaginable suffering (1).
While Zhiyun Yan (燕志云) – Li's mother - certainly is not a only person in the world who is capable of committing such crime, Li Su could be saved if the society had a better child protection system. During all those years Li Su's situation was well known to neighborhood, and once was even reported in several newspapers, but she was nonetheless left alone, lived in her “home” until her young life could not endure anymore. Under such circumstance, Li Su was more a victim of society than a victim of an individual criminal.
A quick look at some recent cases. June 2013, in the city of Nan Jing(南京）, Jiangsu province of China, 2 girls,1 and 3 year-old, was left alone at home for over 100 days and starved to death, due to the completely incapability of mothering (2); July 2013 in Guizhou (贵州) province of China, a man was arrested for brutally torturing her 11 year-old daughter for 5 years long，included pouring boiling water to the head, sewing the mouth together, using needle pricking fingers, etc.(3) . In 2013, Shuicheng county (水城县) of Guizhou province, a 12 year-old girl “Xiaoyan” (晓燕）, after her body was burned literally all over with hot fire rod by her parents – mostly her mother, escaped from “home”. Several days later she ended up a local police department. After Xiaoyan's father handing a “letter of repentance” to police, policemen sent Xiaoyan back to her parents. Soon she escaped again due to her parents' continuing physical tortures. Now Xiaoyan is staying hospital and allegedly under good care. Her fate is unknown (4). There are many more similar cases from time to time. All these cases reveal one fact: children in China have no protection except their families, and if the families happen to be problematic or violent, these children have absolutely no helps from else where.
Child abuse, by all means is the worst type of human crimes, yet it is often neglected by society. The seriousness of child abuse, first lies in the complete innocence and vulnerability of children. Every single child in this world is innocent, and every one of them is completely defenseless before adults' attack. And it is precisely because of this reason, it is the duty of the society to protect children; secondly, the seriousness of child abuse also lies in victims' long term suffering. Physical wounds of child abuse victims may be healed in short period of time, but mental wounds would last for long term. Some of victims would even suffer mental illness for their entire lives; thirdly, because victims of child abuse usually carry tremendous emotional traumas, very often, they can be harmful to themselves, or to others, thus they can be potential danger of society. Due to all this reasons, any civilized societies should have elaborate legal systems to supervise all families with young children, to make sure that they are safe.
Child abuse in China has been a historical problem, yet it never been confronted by society. Corporal punishment to children is perfectly acceptable based on Chinese tradition, so millions of child abuse crimes have been simply “invisible” to public. Further more, as the world largest population, even if the victims of serious child abuse in China are minority, it is still an incredibly large number. Under such circumstance, if there are no actions from Chinese government, the condition for Chinese children would only get worse than what it is.
Even though before Li Su died China had already established child-protect law,, but the sentences to criminals of family child abuse have been extremely mild. Zhiyun Yan, who tortured Li Su for years and finally took her life, was only sentenced 7 years in prison. Shihai Yang (杨世海), the man who torture his daughter for 5 years long, was only sentenced for 1 year and 6 months in jail. We see no sign of justice at all in these verdicts. The real obstacle for the current law to protect children in China is the Chinese ancient tradition: children are parents' property. Because of this obstinate ideology, the law doesn't stand firmly when it related to parents' custodial right, and the implement on this regard is completely lame. By far, among all child abuse cases in China, no matter how serious they were, not a single parent's custodial right has been deprived. This fact, doubtlessly caused children endure much more unnecessary suffering. It is the objective of this petition to urge Chinese legislature to refine the existing child protect law, to create an implementable legal methods, bring those parents who commit serious crime to justice, regardless the their relationships to victims.
A functional Child-protect system would not stop at punishing criminals, more importantly, it aims to “protect” children. So the ultimate goal of this petition letter is to appeal Chinese government and society to put effort on providing a “home” to those children who suffer violence from their parents. We suggest that China government adopts some existing child-protect systems from other countries, such as founding organizations of children protection, setting up children protective hotlines, etc.
Last but not least, in addition to law enforcement and organization of child protection, we also urge government to use all possible mediums, such as news media and educational system, to raise the public awareness of family child abuse situation in China, to advocate the responsibility of society in terms of protecting children. The cultural tradition of China has been focused on elders for thousands years, many Chinese people are still unfamiliar with the concept of child-protection. We believe only when people understand the importance of child protection, could they cooperate with the law, help the legal system to function as it means to, thus the situation of children can be more effectively improved.
A just and healthy society should understand the vulnerability of children and protect them. Children, on the one hand is the most vulnerable group of society, on the other hand they are the hope of the future. Healthy children will bring society a brighter tomorrow. For such reasons, we strongly urge the Chinese legislature to put this issue as an immediate agenda, take actions to change the situation, bring Chinese children a safe and healthy environment.
REMEMBER LI SU! SAVE THE CHILDREN!
1, People's Public Safety, January 18th, 1991. (《人民公共安全专家报》1991年1月18日，第二版