A photo showing two orphan boys living in squalid conditions and chained to a bed was circulated throughout Chinese Internet sites recently, incensing netizens. One boy’s foot was chained to a bed and the other boy’s neck was tied with a cloth.
After the photo went viral, local authorities sacked Lin Shouguo, the director of the orphanage in Cangnan County, Zhejiang, where the 6- and 9-year-old children were housed, according to the state-run Global Times.
The boys had “learning difficulties,” according to Global Times. A nursing assistant with the surname Wang said one of the boys had schizophrenia and exhibited violence; the other boy, whose neck was tied, was said to have epilepsy.
Nurses told other state media that they had to constrain the boys to prevent them from causing harm. Officials, however, said that the orphanage was run poorly and lacked workers. Of the 21 children resident at the orphanage, 19 had developmental disabilities. Only four elderly women who never had training were in charge of them.
Netizen “Fengse Wangxiang” said, “Can this place be called a welfare house? It should be called a violent house,” according to the Daily Telegraph.
Analysts said that China’s orphanages and other charities are severely mismanaged. “After blaming the brutality on the care givers and the contractor, we should not forget one important factor in this tragedy—the lack of supervision and the failure of the government to fulfill its role in the charity sector,” Zhong Qi, a researcher at the Zhejiang Social Sciences Academy, was quoted as saying by state media.
This is the third major incident in less than a month when a shocking photo was circulated on Chinese websites and has prompted local authorities to act.
Several weeks ago, a graphic photo of a woman lying next to her dead 7-month-old fetus caused local provincial authorities to investigate and punish the family planning bureau that carried out the abortion.
And around a week ago, a Weibo user uploaded a photo of purple sweet potatoes mixed with milk that was contaminated with “alkaline water,” prompting the local dairy company to issue a recall of the tainted products.
Weibo, a popular microblogging platform that was launched in 2009, has played a more important role in circumventing China’s Internet blockade, though search terms—even relating to high-ranking Communist Party members—are often censored.
“In the absence of more aggressive media like you see in the West or any real official [and] healthier venue for venting grievances, Weibo has filled a niche in society for that kind of thing,” Doug Young, a media expert from Fudan University’s Journalism School in Shanghai, told The Telegraph.
“Most of the stuff that makes it onto Weibo is not positive news, news that the Communist Party would want blasted into the media,” he added.
Bao Hua, a lawyer with the Beijing Lantai law office, told The Epoch Times that “Welfare agencies are places to care for people with special needs, and they need special treatment and care. The Cangnan welfare agency looking after these children with mental illnesses in this manner is legally questionable, and its appropriateness should be thought over.”
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.