Caged in the woods: Chinese mentally ill woman locked up as family can’t afford treatment
Woman exposed to freezing temperatures, bugs and snakes as brother can’t afford better care for her, the latest in a series of similar cases in poorer areas of China
A 42-year-old mentally ill woman has been made by her brother to live in a cage in the woods in a rural area of southern China, according to a newspaper report.
Xiong Ximei was discovered living in the cage in freezing temperatures by an 18-year-old high school pupil, the Legal Evening News reported.
The woman was covered only by a thin blanket in freezing temperatures in the four-square-metre cage close to a village near the city of Kaili in Guizhou province.
“She told me she could put up with freezing cold weather as the worst was the summer,” the school pupil was quoted as saying.
“She would often get attacked by mosquitoes, bugs and snakes. She was so frightened every night that she had to hide in the corner of her bed for fear of snake bites.”
The pupil, Xiao Junyu, along with his friends bought Xiong some clothes, shoes and food and publicised her conditions online to draw attention to the case.
The woman’s brother told reporters his sister began developing a mental illness after an unhappy marriage drove her to leave her husband in about 2000.
“My mother is mute and father died a few years ago,” he said.
His sister would often vandalise property and assault others so he was forced to lock her in a cage 200 metres from his home as he is often away working.
He said the family was too poor to afford medical treatment so he would inject his sister with tranquillisers if she had a fit.
“The local government is aware of the situation and provided 200 yuan (HK$225) in monthly subsidies,” he said.
There have been several cases reported in Chinese media in recent months of people with mental illnesses caged or locked up by their relatives who are unable to pay for medical treatment in poorer areas of the country.
Chinese media reported in September that an eight-year-old girl from Henan province had been tied to a tree by her grandparents for nearly six years because she reportedly suffers from mental illness.
A half-naked mentally ill young woman was found to have been locked in a room for five years in Hubei province in 2015 after quarrelling with her mother.