Woman in Chains VS Man Underground

(Photo credit: https://ifengus.com/a/24593.html)

On January 28, 2022, a viral video caused controversy on the internet. The video was very normal at first, displaying a father feeding his 8 children by himself. However, netizens quickly drew attention to the poor condition of the mother.

The mother had messy hair and no shoes on her feet. She sat alone in a small shack separate from the big house her husband and children lived in. he steamed bread in her hand remained uneaten and her eyes were blank, as though she were in a trance. Notably, she was fettered by a chain on her neck. Between the number of children (that is really uncommon in China due to the one-child policy) and the mother’s condition, netizens began to consider their depicted prosperity as a farce.

Despite the local government initially concealing information and the man’s insistence that the woman was mentally ill, she was eventually identified as a victim of trafficking. During these years, she has gone through unimaginable hardships: she was strictly restrained, ate pig food, was often beaten and scolded, and was even forced to give birth to about one child a year. She was completely reduced to a slave and a fertility tool.

Fortunately, she was eventually rescued and everyone involved, including the man, were arrested, with the officials that withheld information being held accountable. This issue brought female trafficking to the public once again, arousing great social and governmental attention. Following this event, there are now more public promotions for improved legislation and anti-trafficking efforts. 

However, such events are not restricted to only women and children but also men. In 2005, a massive human trafficking scandal broke out. In the dark brick kilns in the northwest of China (and also the wide rural areas), a group of migrant workers were treated as slaves, toiling under strict surveillance. If they rested, they would be whipped. Working from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m, they were fed only steamed buns and could not eat for more than 15 minutes. The whole area was deserted, and if anyone tried to escape, they would quickly be recaptured. Once caught, the first attempt would result in a severe beating. The next attempt would result in death.

An estimated 45 million people worldwide are suffering from trafficking currently, of which over 30 percent are men, according to Lovejustice, a NGO aimed at stopping trafficking. These men are sold to distant places at extremely low prices or even given out for free. Some are forced to work 20 hours a day, without any rest, many have to endure long and hard beatings, and some even lose their own lives. But they are not taken seriously at all. In China, male trafficking is not legislated, and any law on kidnapping and trafficking only applies to women and children. In the comments of the chained women, some men expressed gratitude that no one will abduct them and some even said that they wanted to be bought and fed by rich women, receiving plenty of backlash. If these men and the whole society can have an equally concerned attitude towards men’s trafficking as they do women and child trafficking, this issue may not be treated so lightly.

At the end of the day, traffickers value bodies, not dialect, gender, education or age. No one deserves to be subjected to these cruel conditions and treated as objects. So, please understand that everyone is in danger as long as trafficking exists, and both women and men should be equally warned and protected in society. 

In one word,there is no need to distinguish between men and women or any other unnecessary labels in human trafficking. The point is always that as long as something as dark as human trafficking exists, all of humanity must resist it together.

Author: Yiru Zhou

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