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Old Woman forced to live in pigsty

An old woman, who has three sons and two daughters, lived with a pig for the past three years in one of her sons' house. The news, first reported by Jiangsu Television, spread on Weibo, causing a storm of angry denouncement.

This old lady, over a hundred years old, has been living in the pigsty for nearly three years in her son's house. Photo:

It happened in Guanyun County, Lianyungang city of Jiangsu. According to the news, the old lady took turns to live with her three sons. Only this son, Chen Shoutian, arranged for his centenarian mother to live in the pig sty when he was more than capable to provide her a decent accommodation in his six-room house.

When confronted by the reporter, he claimed that it was his mother’s own decision to live there. Even when asked whether he would himself want to live in such an unpleasant place, Chen wouldn’t budge and insisted that he too would live there. The reporter couldn’t confirm Chen’s claim with his mother who has lost speech due to old age.

Only one other child of the woman was mentioned in the news. The daughter said she felt sorry for her elderly mother, who refused to live with her due to the rural traditions which dictate that the elderly should live with their son, not daughter, who is not considered as part of the family once married.

After the TV exposure, the local government intervened and it was reported that the old lady was moved to the kitchen by her son.

A day later, a similar piece of news surfaced in Nanjing, where a 91-year-old woman was beaten by her son and daughter-in-law just because she asked for porridge for dinner rather than noodles which she had had for 22 years. The old lady was seen sitting outside in the windy winter, with black eyes and bruises, afraid to go back home to her abusing son.

The Weibo fans are indignant. They condemned the ungrateful children, and expressed pity for the unfortunate parents. “They (the children) are no better than animals.” many said. Yet not many thought about legal solutions for such situations and the government’s responsibility in such cases.

@Yantai Organization (燕泰机构): In this ageing society, it is a serious issue to provide care for the elderly, which raises demands on both the social welfare system and social morals.

@Happy Chenyang (欢乐辰阳): What did the government do? I think the government should force the children to look after their parents. If they can’t, then the government should help.

@camilleminoz: Beware that one day your children will send you to the pigsty too.

@Liu shang Qu Shui LQP (流觞曲水LQP同学): A mother can raise 8 children on her own. But the 8 children cannot take care of their only mother.

@Feather_xinxin (羽毛_心心): Actually what I want to say is that there are many more such cases in China’s countryside. Anyone who’s been there should know. It’s just that there are not many people there who know how to use Weibo, so we don’t know about their suffering.


Editor’s Note: It is a sad story no matter where it happens, but even more so if it happens in China, a country that boasts thousands of years of tradition of filial piety. Time goes by, society develops, people change, and traditions diminish, be it good or not. Even in ancient times, such inhumane behavior would be severely punished by Yamen, feudal China’s government office. Yet in today’s China, seldom do we hear about such people getting the punishments they so deserve.

If not for the tip of kind observers and the involvement of the media, it’s hard to imagine what could happen to the old ladies. Perhaps we should take a look at similar situations in the US, where in every state there is at least one toll-free elder abuse hotline or helpline for reporting elder abuse. In most states, they have a special organization called Adult Protective Services (APS) to respond to such reports. Shouldn’t we consider such measures also?

Moreover, the government should get involved in providing old-age care which is in fact one of its responsibilities. The tradition of relying solely on the family to provide care for their elders is no longer practical in the modern society. With the elderly population edging towards 200 million, this problem needs urgent attention.

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