Bought fifteen years ago, at the age of 21, from a slave trader for a mere $300 by a 50-year-old farmer, the procured wife’s existence was one on par with the animals with which she shared her outhouse accommodation, kept naked and shackled in filth all year round, freezing in winter and food for insects in summer.
Such is the pitiful tale related by a journalist who was tipped off as to the woman’s plight, and went to investigate.
When the journalist set out to confirm the report, he quickly discovered its accuracy was not in doubt; on arrival he soon found his way to the rude hut in question, and on peering into the crude structure’s empty windows saw the imprisoned “wife” staring vacantly back out.
She had apparently been bought from a slave trader 15 years earlier, and then forced into marrying the farmer under a false name to give her servitude an air of legitimacy.
The farmer’s first act upon acquiring his property was to strip her, and tie her to a heavy stone. Interrogation of the farmer revealed he bound her as she would otherwise destroy things, and that he kept her naked as it was easier to deal with her bodily functions that way.
Kept this way, naked all year round, she apparently only survived by keeping her body warm using the single sheep she was kept with. At times she would faint from the cold, but villagers would set a fire for her, although perhaps for reasons less than sympathetic.
Her existence was also one of toil; the farmer had a number of small fields and had her work these, as well as having her work the fields of other villagers, perhaps explaining their interest in avoiding her freezing to death. She was kept half starved, and forced to beg for her living costs when she was not toiling in the fields.
She could read, at least at first, and, according to the wicked villagers, was young and beautiful, and of sound mind, when first she was brought to the village.
But the shell of a woman before the reporter only gazed vacantly into space, and was heedless of the many times she had been bitten by mosquitoes in the hut; the farmer smiled and said “She don’t take no notice of them”.
Apparently, she has at least one surviving relative in the form of an older brother, who came searching for her in the area, but failed ultimately to find her. The reporter is currently soliciting information as to the full identity of the woman.
Whilst slavery and other barbarity may be relatively common in backwater rural China, this story seems to exhibit exceptional callousness and cruelty on the part of the owner, to put things mildly. And it happens not in the backward and neglected interior, but in coastal Shandong province, one of the richest and most economically developed areas in China.