Despondent and depressed after her three sons refused to take care of her, an 85-year-old Henan woman attempted to drown herself by jumping into a reservoir.
On the night of 14 October, passerby in Henan province’s Pingdingshan city saw an elderly woman precariously perched by the edge of a reservoir with a bag of stones tied to her wrist, local news portal Dahe reported .
Police rushed to the scene soon afterwards and managed to persuade the woman, described as “emotionally unstable”, from jumping to her death.
After travelling to the local police station and calming down, the woman explained that she was from Anzhai, a small township in Pingdingshan, and had devoted her entire life to supporting her three sons only to find that upon becoming adults, they were now reluctant to support her. Feeling that life no longer held any meaning, the woman had resigned to death and prepared to drown herself.
After hearing the woman’s story, authorities notified her second eldest son, surnamed Zhao, who arrived to meet his mother at the police station the following day.
Zhao told police that his mother had taken a bus to visit relatives in the surrounding area before disappearing and alighting by the reservoir. He also added that he had been searching for her, and acknowledged that he would take better care of his mother in the future after authorities notified him that refusal to support one’s parents is a violation of Chinese law.
The Chinese Elderly Protection Law, sometimes known colloquially as the “Filial Piety Law,” went into effect in July and prohibits family members from “overlooking or neglecting the elderly.” Under the law, children are required to support and visit their parents regularly, but so far, specific details on the enforcement of these rules has been nebulous.
Despite the law, various crimes of neglect or abuse against elderly parents have been prevalent in Chinese media for the last year. In late 2012, news reports exposed a son that had sent his mother to live in a pigsty, and in early September, a Shandong woman was beaten by her granddaughter in broad daylight on the street.