The Unheard Voices of Domestic Violence in China

  • Woman passed away after being set on fire by ex-husband.
  • Over 30% married women in China have experienced domestic violence.
  • The public need to be conscientized about domestic violence law.

Had nothing happened, Lamu would be in the mountains digging up Notopterygium roots, a traditional medical herb in China. Once she’s back at home, she would stream for a while on TikTok to chat with her fans. On September 14, while Lamu was streaming in her kitchen, fans saw a man enter the room before the screen went black.

Lamu (middle) with her sister and father.

On TikTok, Lamu introduced herself as an unattractive little girl from a poor family. Her hands didn’t look like those of a 30-year-old at all: dirty and scarred from digging roots for years. She mentioned shyly in a video that she hoped her fans wouldn’t mind her hands because her family depended on them.

However, those life-supporting hands are now totally black and curled. On September 14, the ex-husband of Lamu, Tang, forced his way into her house and set Lamu on fire with gasoline. Lamu stayed in a coma for 13 days in the hospital, 90% of her body seriously burnt.

Also, there are several clear cuts, the one on her forehead deep to the bone. On September 30, she passed away, one day before the Mid-Autumn Festival, when other families gather together and enjoy the moon. Lamu’s sister, Zhuoma, pleaded for financial help online to cover Lamu’s medical expenses. In just one day, they’ve collected over $148,000. Part of the money was returned after Lamu’s death.

Lamu’s house, now burnt down to the ground.

According to multiple reports, Lamu divorced Tang in May after repeated domestic violence. However, Tang kept coming back asking her to remarry him, threatening to kill her family and their two kids if not. In June, the judge gave custody of the two kids to Tang because he had more financial resources. Lamu started to work harder, trying to make more money and to get her kids back. Then out of nowhere, Tang showed up with a knife and tank of gasoline. He is expected to receive a death penalty soon.

In China, the idea of “even the best judge can’t handle a domestic issue” is deeply rooted. People try to avoid interfering in other families’ domestic problems. Women suffering from domestic violence tend to tolerate it as long as they can, since in China reporting their husband to the police or getting divorced is not well received by society. A study by the All-China Women’s Federation shows that over 30% of married women have experienced domestic violence, and on average, they wouldn’t call the police for help until after 35 times.

Police announcement of the case.

On Weibo, people are calling for a Lamu Bill to address the domestic violence in China. Others claim that what China needs is not a new law, but strengthened general education of law and legal aid to the public. Related topics have received over 500 million views.

Reports show that several influencers have come to the hospital the day Lamu passed away to shoot videos, and they have been criticized as ruthless vampires on the internet. Streaming platforms have blocked these influencers’ accounts to ease public rage.

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Just another attempt to show a more real China.

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