• Wed, Mar 6 2013

Chinese Struggle With Grief After The Strangulation Of A 2-Year-Old Girl

grievingIt’s a parent’s worst nightmare. There’s a sleeping baby in the back seat, and they just have to grab something from the house or a gas station. They leave the infant for a second, only to find their vehicle and child gone. The very idea brings a lump to my throat and settles a huge weight in the pit of my stomach. It’s the horrific experience of one Chinese father this week, and the outcome of his tragic story has sparked soul-searching across the nation.

The father, who owned supermarket in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun, needed to step into the store to turn on a stove. His two-year-old daughter was sleeping in the backseat of his SUV. He was worried that the store was freezing cold, and didn’t want to expose his little one to icy temperature. So he left his child in the car for just a minute while he ran in. When he came out, his car and child were gone.

The city of Changchun quickly responded to the man’s pleas for help. Family, friends and random citizens all joined in the hunt for the little girl. Hundreds of taxi cabs stopped taking fares and joined the search. News reports say that husbands even drove around with their nursing wives, so that the women could immediately feed the little girl if she was found hungry and crying.

Unfortunately, all of that community support and kind-heartedness could not deliver a happy outcome. Finally, the car thief came forward and admitted to the police that after finding the child in the back seat, he strangled her and dumped her body in the snow. Now, the community is left to mourn the child they all worked so hard to save.

The gut-wrenching story has created something of a firestorm in China, with citizens from around the country taking to the internet to question the country’s morals as a whole, and how such a brutal crime could take place. While some have blamed the father for leaving his child alone, the majority have considered this latest incident of violence against children as a signal for needed soul-searching among the country that’s working very hard to modernize. They want to be seen as an established, civilized nation.

Of course, the sad truth is that horrible people commit violent crimes no matter what nation you’re in. Every country on the globe has had similar tragedies. But that likely won’t do much to make the people of Changchun feel any better. They lost an innocent child this week to a vile act. It’s hard for anyone to accept that such evil exists in the world.

(Photo: jeremy spang/Shutterstock)

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  • faifai

    You know, for a country that not so long ago had no problem with leaving baby girls exposed to die outside, it’s nice to see the whole town searching. That actually speaks really well for them.

    • china loves girls too

      the intense preference for boys is sometimes exaggerated and misunderstood in the west. It’s actually a rather complex issue, as China is a massive and complex nation. There are *plenty* of people who want a son for a variety of cultural, personal, logistical and social reasons (many the same reasons a US couple want a boy), although sometimes the pressure is greater if the family is only allowed one child. Rural families and ethnic minorities are often allowed to have multiple children. I personally know a number of chinese families who absolutely adore their daughters. One father recently told me that it seems advantageous these days to have a daughter because women’s rights and culture are developing, esp in regards to getting a good job, going to school, caring for the family etc, and because there is a numerical shortage of available brides. Having a son is great in a Confucian culture until you realize there’s no one for him to marry and have grandchildren with…thus swiftly ending your family line. I don’t mean to brush aside the wide spread discrimination and atrocities committed against many female babies in China, but it’s not a simple black and white story.

    • faifai

      Let’s face it–historically, China has had a very bad record for it’s women. And “historically” was only a few decades ago. I’m just sayin’ that it’s nice to see the change. Now let’s get India on board!

  • Annie

    I wish I could tell the people wondering these things about morality that the many, many acts of kindness and concern this awful crime prompted outweighs the actions of the murderer.

    This baby belongs to the people of Changchun. In death she has many, many uncles and aunties who tried their hardest and will probably carry her within them for the rest of their lives. I hope that someday, when the hurt lessens, they can find solace in that.