A 24-year-old woman in the Jingang village of Xiaogan city, Hubei province who was locked in a deserted house by her parents for five years after suffering a “mental breakdown” was rescued and sent to the hospital on February 25.
Zhang Qi upon being rescued.
Zhang Qi got pregnant out of wedlock in 2009 when she was 18 years old and her parents forced her to abort the child, according to Nandu Daily. Emotionally distressed, Zhang suffered a “nervous breakdown” afterwards. Her parents worried that their daughter’s state of mind would affect her teen brother, who was described as “the apple of their eye”. They kept her in an abandoned home in the village and locked all of the doors and windows, leaving only a small hole through which she could interact with the outside world.
Zhang’s father runs a clinic while her mother sells fruits. Her mother later told reporters “she kept running away and hurting people. We took her to an asylum, but it didn’t work.”
Inside the garbage-strewn shack, Zhang was unable to bathe and saw no sunlight. She could communicate clearly, but after remaining stationary for so long, she began losing her ability to move and function normally. Her grandfather would bring her meals, and her classmates often returned to the village from the cities they worked in to deliver snacks and drinks.
Zhang Qi has lost the ability to walk on her own.
The shack where Zhang Qi has been locked for five years.
Zhang’s classmates said that they had reported the case to police every year but the cops refused to investigate, telling them that it was a family affair.
This year, concerned citizens were determined to get Zhang’s case out in the public. After the story received attention online, members of the media and volunteers gathered in Zhang’s town and demanded that Zhang’s parents let her out. Under great public pressure, they finally did and Zhang was sent to the hospital for treatment.
Ten of thousands of web users took to online forums to discuss Zhang’s case.
One user named Leo wrote: “Forget it. There are different types of people in the world. What I only want to say is the hearts of her parents are made of iron while those of the villagers are made of wood.”
“Treat your own daughter this way? You’re no better than cattle,” web user 享受不起那牛奶的味道 wrote.
User 普罗米修斯 said: “Thanks to her classmates and netizens’ help. The world has real love.”
“Under the current social welfare system in China, it is difficult for a rural family to support her. But imprisoning her is not an option,” said a user named Yingzhijiezaojiao.
It’s unclear if Zhang’s parents will face legal punishment.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via People’s Daily / Tencent]