The mother of four siblings who committed suicide together by swallowing pesticide has returned home to Guizhou province to say a final goodbye to her children.
The 32-year-old mother, named Ren Xifeng, told reporters that she had not contacted her children since leaving home last March to work in Jieyang city, Guangdong province.
“I thought my husband would take care of them,” Ren said. “If I had one more chance, I would have done the best I could to make proper arrangements.”
According to The Paper, Ren had left home after a fight with her husband, Zhang Fangqi. Shortly after, Zhang also left the village to look for work, leaving the children to fend for themselves.
Ren said that despite missing her children, she had not returned to see the children as she was terrified of being beaten by her husband.
“I returned home in the evening of March 17 last year. My kids had fallen asleep. I couldn’t help but waking them up, but I failed to say anything else to them except for calling their names,” Ren recalled.
“I only spent a few hours at home with them. I had just got out of hospital where I’d been for three days due to being beaten by my husband. After recovering, I left for Guangdong to find work,” she added. “I told them to study well, as life for people without an education is hard.”
The boy and three girls, aged between five and and 14, were confirmed dead after drinking pesticide with the intention of killing themselves an investigation conduced by the local police.
According to Xinhua, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for “an end to such tragedies”, vowing to punish officials who are lax in providing due assistance to families with similar problems. Several officials have reportedly been suspended or removed from their positions.
China has more than 60 million left-behind children in rural areas, most of whom live with grandparents when their parents travel to other cities to work. However, some 3.4 percent of these children live alone, according to a 2013 report from the All-China Women’s Federation.
By Lucy Liu