• Sat
  • Nov 22, 2014
  • Updated: 6:22am

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

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.
Without wanting to sound racist but I assume it would have been easier for the 2 ladies if they were of white color. I am always surprised what I get away with in China being a white person compared to Asians or local Chinese. The Chinese are still very racist when it comes to black people.
Maybe also the British consulate would be much more willing to help and intervene seriously if they were white or aristocratic.
I just hope that they get free as quickly as possible and that without any ridiculous fine and/or compensation but will be compensated by the Chinese government for their ordeal. Wish them good luck !
"allegedly being assaulted/could see them stranded in China for up to a year/The families also say they have been left disillusioned/despite paying 45,000 yuan to settle the case/on-going criminal investigation, which could take up to a year/who weighs only 55 kg, in the face, she claims"
So many 'weasel words' in this article, it's worthless, no 'investigation' necessary - just mainland bashing! Two Britons of ****ian extraction (?) happen to be in southeast China with 45,000 yuan to spare ? How did they pay - cash ? Is bringing in this much cash permitted? Or they used Visa?
Where's the proof of payment, even by their families? Did no one even suggest there might be a problem with ****ian scams? Just Google - ****ian+scams! As for their skin colour - even Oprah Winfrey got caught out with this - and NOT in China :-)
As an after thought were these women on business or tourist visas? Ahhhhhh
1. Didn't she see any sample slippers before put down the order? Generally when you are to make a big purchase you need to at least look at the samples and know what you'll get.
2. The facts of the argument were purely based on the British madam's own description, in which the damages she incurred were completely ignored. So it appears to me, by seeking justice for this poor woman, the reporter here simply omitted anything negative to her.
3. What did the British Consulate do to help their citizens? I noticed these two women claimed facing various barriers in the legal process, like signing a document without understanding the language, shouldn't it be the Consulate's responsibility to assist their citizens during such trouble?
Suddenly it's all China's/Chinese vendor's fault. You will notice that they allege that the British Consulate was not of much help. If the British Consulate was not willing to help, there must be something wrong beyond racism. And the items includes more than just shoes (a Rmb35k jade bracelt & a Rmb150k diamond ring). That's serious stuff in any terms. There must be some real good reasons or proof that makes the British Consulate accept the situation.
Shop owners thought they were African...thus easier to intimidate. Didn't take into account people of color can also be UK citizens as well. That's why the Liwan gov't did not want to pursue prosecution.
welcome to China.
we just want your money.
thank u and begone.
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.
Dear Shuike, the article states that "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". I am not sure, as you are, that they wanted to buy those items. And, please, what do you mean for "serious stuff"? The value of the items? Tourists in Hong Kong may buy several times more that values, what is the point of this remark? The real point is the fogginess of the story, which cannot put us in the position to judge whose fault it is. By the way, I am puzzled by the fact that nobody from the shop was taken by the police: presuntion of innocence? It will be nice, but I guess impossible, to have the official version from the Police. By the way, any action taken because those fake Gucci's?
This is great china
Think twice before mess
they were possibly racist too.
Judging the HK family who tortured their maid you can also say to the maids, "Welcome to HK, you can clean up our apartments and be a slave, but do not expect any humanity from us". Thank you and work harder.
In INDIA, the women would have been gang raped and killed.
Just pay up and go home.
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.
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.
Just like the HK family who tortured their indonesian maid? Another of your ridiculous 50cents?
They sure look more like African natives than Britons..........either way, it doesn't matter...........They will be discriminated for sure in China. Should have just gone to HK to do your shopping instead of hoping to find cheap bargains in China...........
Yes, sounds very much like you are right, from our own experiences in China. There is a lot of racism. And the consulate would have been more helpful if they were white or aristocratic. Or loaded, really loaded.
Just see and judge how the HKnese treat their domestic helpers.
Seriously ? How can someone be so stupid to say such a thing and by the way they paid already read the article
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.
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.
Chaz_hen, you wrote: "Can you imagine how swamped Chinese consulates would be all over the world if their citizens came crying to them every time they felt cheated or mistreated in a commercial transaction?"
Well, actually the Chinese authorities do try to protect their citizens abroad. They usually first rank the cases by the applicant's net worth and party membership status, though.
Shuike, well the British consulate only sat by and watched a Chinese official get a suspended death penalty after they were found guilty of murdering a British national, who was both a husband and father. Maybe "some real good reasons" why the consulate accepted the situation with these two women is that it has no power to dictate what Chinese legal authorities do, no matter how criminally the authorities act.
Do you really think a consulate should get involved in e v e r y single petty commercial dispute in a foreign country?
Can you imagine how swamped Chinese consulates would be all over the world if their citizens came crying to them every time they felt cheated or mistreated in a commercial transaction?
Chaz_hen, you wrote, "Can you imagine how swamped Chinese consulates would be all over the world if their citizens came crying to them every time they felt cheated or mistreated in a commercial transaction?"
Well, actually, the Chinese consulates abroad do...they just handle them in order of the applicant's net worth and party membership standing.
A typical and common story of extortion, corruption and racism when foreigners run into trouble with Chinese crooks - and I don't just mean the shop keepers, I mean the police as well because inevitably they took a cut of the blackmail money. Dirty, filthy, rotten criminal law system.
What is the British Consulate doing?
Best thing is to stop chinese tourist from viiting UK...they dont buy anything of value anyway..and they eat only in chinese restaurant...!!!
Now you know how we filipinos gets treated by these greedy and corrupt chinese...!!!
Full story on different sides please......
And the SCMP reporter (Mimi Lau in Guangzhou) did not bother to interview the shopkeeper or the police before writing up this one-sided story. This newspaper really needs some quality journalists.
What??? Do you ever look in a mirror and recognise a racist pig?
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.
Sounds like you're saying that there's racism on both the Chinese and the British (consulate) sides.


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