After allegedly being abused for over a decade and raped by her adoptive family, a young woman in northern China’s Shanxi province dreams of justice for her tormentors and a reunion with her biological parents, according to an article published Thursday by an investigative news arm of Beijing Youth Daily.
The victim, identified by the alias Wang Xiaoying, told Beijing Youth Daily she was locked in a room at her home in a mountain village in Qinshui County when police found her in March. She told police that her 50-year-old adoptive father and his son had raped her and restricted her freedom. The older man was arrested in April on suspicion of rape and false imprisonment.
Though her household registration card says she was born in 1999, Wang isn’t confident of her age, her birth name, or how she ended up with her adoptive family. What she does remember is years of abuse at the hands of her father whenever he was in a bad mood. According to Wang, her relationship with him and his son deteriorated after her adoptive mother died in 2013.
After Wang turned 16, she tried repeatedly to run away from home but was stopped each time by her adoptive father, who, it was rumored among the villagers, wanted to marry her to his son five years her senior. “Why should I marry him?” Wang said in the article. “Even if I’m not his biological sister, I’m still his sister.”
In November of last year, Wang managed to flee south to Henan province in central China, where she stayed with a friend she had met online. But facing pressure from villagers and family members, she soon returned to her home in Shanxi. From then on, she said, her adoptive father forced her to have sex with him nearly every day.
“She was frightened. Her adoptive father confiscated her cellphone and locked her indoors so she couldn’t seek help,” Hou Shichao, a lawyer providing free legal counsel to Wang, told Sixth Tone. Wang told Beijing Youth Daily that her fear and anger went so deep that she had even thought of killing herself.
Wang’s adoptive father is in detention awaiting trial, while her brother — who admitted to raping Wang long before his father, when she was just 8 or 9 years old — is under home surveillance awaiting trial for rape. “I was ignorant then. When I grew older, I realized it was wrong,” the adoptive brother, now in his early 20s, told The Beijing News in August.
Last year, Chinese media reported on 378 sexual violence cases involving victims under 14, according to Girls’ Protection, a nongovernmental organization that protects minors from sexual abuse. Over 90 percent of these victims were girls, and over half of the perpetrators were acquaintances or family members. Though there has been greater media exposure of sexual violence against children in recent years, Girls’ Protection said that some cases remain underreported because of a lack of awareness of statutory rape and sexual violence laws.
Even with the arrest of Wang’s adoptive father and the impending trial, the other villagers blame Wang for destroying the family. “The last time I took a taxi back to the village, there were people gathered at the entrance, shouting that I was ungrateful,” she said.
In a previous interview with Sixth Tone, lawyer Li Ying of Beijing Yuanzhong Gender Development Center said that women and girls in rural areas are especially vulnerable to sexual violence. “They barely know how to seek help, and their options are few,” Li said. “They have limited access to information and education.” But thanks to China’s growing #MeToo movement, she added, the general public is hearing more about sexual abuse and becoming more conscious of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
Hou, the lawyer, has said that he and his client will request to have the adoptive relationship terminated.
“I have a hope that I could find my biological parents,” Wang told Beijing Youth Daily. “I’m not expecting any help from them; I just want to know more about my background, and start a new life.”
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: VCG)