• Tue
  • Sep 16, 2014
  • Updated: 3:39pm

British women 'beaten and left stranded' following row in Guangzhou shoe shop

British shoppers say they remain stuck in China months after being beaten by shop workers and arrested following a dispute over slippers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 4:09pm

Two British women who travelled to Guangzhou on a week-long shopping trip in June remain stuck in the city two months later after an argument over counterfeit slippers led to them allegedly being assaulted.

Despite members of their families flying from Britain to China, attempts to get them onto a plane home have foundered because of a complex criminal investigation which could see them stranded in China for up to a year.

The families also say they have been left disillusioned by British diplomats in Guangzhou who they claim did little to help.

Britons Mary Idowu, 59, and Esther Jubril-Badmos, 48, from London travelled to Guangzhou on June 16 for shopping and planned to stay for a week.

But after getting into an argument over a 500 yuan (HK$630) deposit for a pair of slippers, the two were detained by police in Zhanqian, Liwan district, on June 21 for "provocation and disturbance of peace".

Their visas expired during their 38-day detention, leaving them stranded in China.

The women say that, despite paying 45,000 yuan to settle the case, police refused to cancel their bail - a condition required to apply for an exit visa - citing the on-going criminal investigation, which could take up to a year.

Jubril-Badmos said she ordered 15 pairs of slippers at 150 yuan each and put down a 500 yuan deposit. She came to collect them three days later but found they carried the brand name Gucci. Fearing the label could cause problems with British customs officials, she asked for non-branded slippers instead.

But staff in the Xinwantong clothes market told her to pay the full sum for the counterfeit items or lose her deposit.

A quarrel ensued and a male shop worker hit Jubril-Badmos, who weighs only 55 kg, in the face, she claims.

"I saw stars immediately. He pulled my hair so hard that the hair roots were plucked out," she said, adding that her right arm, face and legs were covered in blood after the attack.

After police arrived, the women say they both were taken away while the shop staff were allowed to remain free. Jubril-Badmos was later accused by Zhanqian police of causing minor injuries to the man and three other women.

The two women say they were detained and interrogated by local police and denied medical treatment until they completed a statement.

They were told to sign dozens of documents in Chinese, including a written confession, which they did not understand. After spending a week in detention centre, Jubril-Badmos was kept in hospital for 25 days as she could not stop vomiting after the assault and her blood pressure soared. Meanwhile, Idowu was kept in a detention centre with 15 people in a cell, sleeping on the floor next to a toilet.

Last month, Idowu's daughters arrived from Britain to try to secure their mother's release. On July 29th, the Liwan district prosecutor refused to prosecute the case against the women, citing inadequate evidence, which finally led to them being released on bail. However, they remain in legal limbo.

Laura Idowu, 20, Mary's youngest daughter and a law student in the UK, said: "It's indescribable and I'm flabbergasted by the Chinese government and its police system. I have come to realise that there's so much corruption in the police force."

Desperately wanting to go home, they say police suggested they could settle the case by paying compensation to the shoe shop. However, they were told they had to pay 207,580 yuan, which included 35,000 yuan for a jade bracelet and 150,000 yuan for a diamond ring.

"It's been unfair … I think they took advantage of us because we're foreigners in a foreign land," Jubril-Badmos said. They say they finally paid 45,000 yuan to settle the case, but police refused to relax bail conditions, citing ongoing investigations.


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This article is now closed to comments

In INDIA, the women would have been gang raped and killed.
Just pay up and go home.
What??? Do you ever look in a mirror and recognise a racist pig?
Seriously ? How can someone be so stupid to say such a thing and by the way they paid already read the article
michael.michael writes, "As a foreigner in a foreign country, every consulate must help their citizens if they come and request help."
Ummm...this is the same country and consular system that watched a **** of one of its citizens get a suspended death sentence last year, while others in China are put to death on a regular basis for stealing not so large sums of money. Somehow I get the sense that when it comes to the police and courts in China, Britain is not really able to dictate how its citizens are treated. I therefore do not automatically jump to the conclusion as some do here that it must have been the two women who were up to no good.
Then again, maybe some people outside of China do share a common belief with many authorities in China: that people are not always innocent until proven guilty and instead must prove themselves innocent before the local police.
It's only one part of the story. SCMP have not taken the trouble to interview the Chinese vendor nor the Chinese authorities nor the British Consulate & jumped straight into judgement that the Chinese vendor/China & even the British Consulate are all wrong. Maybe they're right but I always take a grain of salt when stories like these are so one sided.
I am a Brit who has lived near Guangzhou for 8 years. No Briton would travel 10,000km to Guangzhou on a week long personal shopping trip. It makes no sense - it's either mega expensive brands or rubbish, little in-between. My guess is that they were there 'purchasing' and to do so on a Tourist's visa is going to get you into serious trouble. To get the police involved in anything in Guangzhou requires a Herculean effort; this kind of fracas would be of no interest to them. They must have really kicked off in that store. It takes an enormous amount of provocation for a Chinese guy to start punching - but when they do, it's 'postal'. This story just doesn't add up. The usual response of the police to such a situation is to throw you out of China on your ear. There is a lot more to this story than is printed here. This smells like a commercial smuggling case to me.
That was my thought too as I read this story. I mean, what casual tourist would buy 15 pairs of slippers at a time? And they're worried about the brand being scrutinized by the British customs? Having said that, I do think the women deserve better treatments by the authorities though--if their description of their treatments were true.
This story is missing valuable information. As a foreigner in a foreign country, every consulate must help their citizens if they come and request help. This is mandatory of any country. Given how the British consulate did not want to help it's own citizen in this case. There clearly is or was something that these two have or had committed.
Then I would say that you have no experience of the British consulate. They are absolutely useless with providing any kind of assistance to British subjects abroad.
Well for all of you China lovers...this looks like it is the future. Buy something or get your but kicked and sent to jail.




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