The tragic case of a rural livestreamer who died after being set alight by her ex-husband has triggered outrage over domestic violence on Chinese social media.
The 30-year-old woman, named Lamu, died on Wednesday after efforts to save her life failed, according to a statement from police in Jinchuan county, in the remote northwest of Sichuan province.
She had more than 885,000 followers on Douyin – the Chinese version of TikTok – and regularly posted videos of her daily life foraging in the mountains, cooking and lipsyncing to songs dressed in traditional Tibetan clothing.
The police statement on Thursday confirmed earlier local media reports that she was doused in petrol and set alight at home by her ex-husband, surnamed Tang, on September 14. She was transferred to Sichuan Provincial People’s hospital for treatment on September 17.
Lamu suffered burns to 90 percent of her body, her sister told the Chengdu Commercial Daily.
Her ex-husband Tang reportedly attacked her while she was livestreaming and had a history of domestic violence, local media said.
He was detained on suspicion of intentional homicide, police said.
Lamu’s fans had raised one million yuan ($150,000) for her hospital treatment shortly after the attack, local media reported.
Tens of thousands of grieving followers left comments on her Douyin page, while millions of users on the Twitter-like platform Weibo demanded justice using the trending hashtags “Lamu case” and “Lamu died after being set on fire by her ex-husband” – which were later censored.
“Remove the ‘internet celebrity’ label, she is just an ordinary woman who unfortunately suffered domestic violence and was abused and threatened,” read one comment with more than 28,000 likes.
Others called for her attacker to receive the death sentence.
Several other high-profile cases of domestic violence have sparked an outcry in China this year, with people calling on lawmakers to do more to seek justice for victims.
In June, a woman from Henan province was denied a divorce after she jumped out of a second-story window to escape her husband’s physical abuse, leaving her paralyzed.
The court later granted the divorce after her case attracted nationwide attention on social media.
In June, the eastern city of Yiwu introduced a system that lets women check whether their fiance has a history of domestic violence, in a move hailed by women’s rights advocates.
China only criminalised domestic violence in 2016, but the issue remains pervasive and under-reported, especially in underdeveloped rural communities.
Activists are worried that a recent change to China’s civil code – which introduced a mandatory 30-day “cooling-off” period for couples wishing to divorce – may make it harder for victims to leave abusive marriages.
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