Five years after having her face and body set on fire and severely disfigured by a jilted classmate, Zhou Yan is ready to look at a camera again.
Last week, Zhou posted a series of photos of herself to Weibo. Those courageous photos show scars covering her face and body. The moving post was accompanied by a poem, where Zhou writes that despite all she has endured, she still looks forward to the future.
The post has received 45,000 likes and 18,000 comments. Many netizens wrote about how much they admire Zhou for her bravery, resiliency and beauty. Meanwhile, others have cursed the “son of a bitch” that almost burned her face off.
Back in 2011, 17-year-old Zhou Yan was doused with gasoline and set on fire by her classmate, Tao Rukun, after she rejected his romantic advances. Zhou had studied at the same school as Tao in Anhui’s capital of Hefei and had turned him down on multiple occasions, with her parents even arranging for her to transfer to another school to avoid him.
Tao responded by going to the teen’s home, pouring kerosene on her and setting her aflame. Zhou suffered second and third-degree burns covering more than 30% of her body. Along with the viciousness of the attack, much was made about the fact that Tao was the son of government officials. Immediately following the incident, Tao’s father took to Weibo and apologized for the “irreparable hurt” caused by his son, and for not having taught him properly. He added that he would do whatever he could to aid in Zhou’s recovery.
However, reports soon hit Weibo that Tao’s parents had initially refused to pay for the Zhou’s medical fees unless her family agreed to sign a document calling for their son’s release.
Instead, Tao was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2012. Zhou’s family originally also asked for 4.67 million yuan in compensation; however, the court only granted them 1.72 million yuan in a controversial May 2015 decision.
The victim’s family believed that the amount was clearly too little, while Tao’s family thought it was still too large, leading to both sides appealing the verdict. In March of this year, the court ruled that the compensation should be slightly increased to 1.8 million yuan ($277,000). Upon finding out that the amount had only increased by 80,000 yuan, Zhou Yan fainted in front of the court.
Zhou has over 200,000 followers on Weibo. She also posts about how many egg tarts she can eat, sleep and memes.
[Images via Luo Yang, taken as a part of her series GIRLS]