Author Zhang Lijia researches her upcoming book in prostitution in China, and dives into the conservative mindset on wife-beating. In the South China Morning Post she tells about her meeting with Chen Guihua in Tianjin. She sees some bright spots for the future.
Chen Guihua, a 48-year-old grandmother, ekes out a living from a massage parlour in Tianjin, offering massage in the front room and sex in the back room. Her life as a “working girl” isn’t a bed of roses but it is much better than her previous life – a battered wife living with an explosive husband, an experience she describes as “the 18th layer of hell”.
I met Chen, originally from Liaoning, last year, while researching a book on prostitution. I was reminded of her story by two recent high-profile cases of domestic violence. In one case, Kim Lee, the American wife of the celebrity founder of Crazy English, a popular language-learning programme, won her divorce settlement; in the other, Li Yan, a woman from Sichuan , is facing execution for killing her abusive husband.
Chen could easily have been another Li Yan. She confessed to me that she thought about killing her husband but could not bring herself to do it…
But Zhang Lijia sees hope, at the end of her opt-in:
However, I do see bright spots, in particular the increase in activism that is highlighting the issue. Recently, I braved the snow to join a dozen or so activists and supporters outside Chaoyang District Court for the final hearing of the Kim Lee case. Among the crowd was the familiar figure of Feng Yuan who has been working tirelessly to save Li Yan, writing petitions to the Supreme People’s Court and the All-China Women’s Federation.
Feng co-founded the non-governmental organisation with the idea to change the public’s view of domestic violence and advocate for stronger laws. Will the government listen to these ever louder voices?
- Celebrity divorce points at weak position women – Zhang Lijia (chinaherald.net)
- Will free unions work at Foxconn? – Zhang Lijia (chinaherald.net)
- Be careful in the year of the snake – Zhang Lijia (chinaherald.net)
- Celebrity divorce points at weak position women – Zhang Lijia (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Working girls and police violence – Zhang Lijia (chinaspeakersbureau.info)