Chinese vlogger dies after being set on fire by ex-husband

Lamu had more than 885,000 followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of Tiktok. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM DOUYIN
Lamu had more than 885,000 followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of Tiktok. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM DOUYIN

BEIJING • The tragic case of a rural live-streamer who died after being set alight by her former husband has triggered outrage over domestic violence in China.

The 30-year-old woman, named Lamu, died last Wednesday after efforts to save her life failed, according to a statement from police in Sichuan province's Jinchuan county.

She had more than 885,000 followers on Douyin - the Chinese version of TikTok - and regularly posted videos of her daily life foraging in the mountains, cooking and lipsyncing to songs while dressed in traditional Tibetan clothing.

The police statement said Lamu was doused in petrol and set alight at home by her former husband, surnamed Tang, on Sept 14. He was detained on suspicion of intentional homicide.

Local media reported that Tang attacked Lamu while she was live-streaming and that he had a history of domestic violence.

She suffered burns to 90 per cent of her body, her sister told the Chengdu Commercial Daily.

Lamu's fans raised one million yuan (S$201,000) for her hospital treatment shortly after the attack, local media said.

Millions of users on the Twitter-like platform Weibo demanded justice using the trending hashtags #Lamu case and #Lamu died after being set on fire by her ex-husband - which were later censored.

"Remove the 'Internet celebrity' label, she is just an ordinary woman who unfortunately suffered domestic violence and was abused and threatened," read one comment with more than 28,000 likes.

Several other high-profile cases of domestic violence have sparked an outcry in China this year, with people calling on lawmakers to do more to seek justice for victims.

In June, a woman from Henan province was denied a divorce after she jumped out of a second-storey window to escape her husband's physical abuse, leaving her paralysed. The court later granted the divorce after her case drew nationwide attention on social media.

China criminalised domestic violence only in 2016, but the issue remains pervasive and under-reported, especially in underdeveloped rural communities.

Activists are worried that a recent change to China's civil code - which introduced a mandatory 30-day "cooling off" period for divorcing couples - may make it harder for victims to leave abusive marriages.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 04, 2020, with the headline Chinese vlogger dies after being set on fire by ex-husband. Subscribe