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Tibetan farmer and social media influencer Lhamo was viciously attacked by her ex-husband during a live stream video. Back in mid-September 2020, Lhamo sought help from her local authorities. She told the police that she was a victim of domestic abuse.
Authorities chose to ignore her cry for help and did nothing to aid her. According to Lhamo’s family, she died from her injuries two weeks after her ex-husband attacked and set her on fire. The social media influencer was 30-years-old.
Many Tibetans chose to go by only one name. Lhamo lived on her farm in the southwestern area of China. She frequently shared videos of her life on the Chinese app Douyin. This is an app similar to TikTok.
Social Media Influencer Attacked by Ex-Husband
Her last live stream — on a Chinese social media platform — was shared from her kitchen. Around 400 of her 200,000 followers had tuned in to watch. To their horror, a man suddenly entered the room. According to The New York Times, Lhamo is heard screaming before the video abruptly stopped.
Local authorities are currently looking into the situation. They believe that the ex-husband set Lhamo on fire after he doused her with gasoline. Lhamo was taken to the hospital with severe burns covering most of her body. According to The New York Times, her sister Dolma confirmed Lhamo died two weeks later.
With the rising tensions over China’s legal system in preventing domestic violence and now Lhamo’s case — there have been lots of social media outcry.
Lhamo met her ex-husband, Tang Lu when she was 18-years-old. The two were married soon after they met. Tang Lu lived in the neighboring village. Lhamo moved in with him after they married. In the years to follow, she gave birth to her sons — now ages 12 and three.
Outcry Across Social Media Over Lhamo’s Attack
Dolma reported that her sister often had bruises on her face and body. There were even times when she would stay with their father for short periods to “recover from her injuries.” Attempting to escape from her abusive husband Lhamo divorced him in March of this year.
He apparently did not take the divorce well, as he began threatening to kill their sons if she did not return to him. According to The Times, Dolma stated that her sister called the police on two separate occasions asking for help. When they did nothing she did the only thing she thought she could do and remarried Tang Lu.
She attempted to receive help from the authorities shortly after remarrying. The authorities told her that due to her remarrying the abuser it now became a “personal family matter.” They further told her there was nothing they could do to help her.
Lhamo even sought help from the Jinchuan County Women’s Federation. This is a government agency which protects the rights of woman. According to Dolma, they told Lhamo that they could not help her either. In June, she filed for divorce once again. The judge granted her the divorce but awarded the ex-husband custody of their sons.
Lhamo fled to the mountains to hide from her ex-husband. She spent the summer picking herbs. Two days prior to her attack she posted a video saying that she was going to go home.
Dolma told The New York Times that her sister “looked like a piece of charcoal.” She further stated, “He burned almost all her skin off.”
No Help Until Domestic Violence Was Caught on Social Media
According to reports from Beijing Equality, China passed a law against domestic violence in 2016. The women’s rights group further stated that over 900 women have since been killed by their partners or husbands. The New York Times reports that enforcement of this law is extremely spotty. They further stated that offenders receive such a light punishment. Especially in a society that stigmatized divorce and places pressure on the victims to remain silent.
Many activists say that most of their police officers are untrained to handle domestic violence cases. Unfortunately in the area where Lhamo resided domestic abuse victims often lack social support networks. Due to this women in these areas are generally less educated on their rights.
China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, stated “protection of women’s rights and interests must become a national commitment,” at a United Nations conference. Every victim of domestic violence deserves to have somewhere safe to turn to.
Written by Sheena Robertson
The New York Times: Her Abuse Was a ‘Family Matter,’ Until It Went Live; Elsie Chen
Heavy: Social Media Influencer Set on Fire & Killed by Ex-Husband, Family Says; Caroline Warnock
Featured Image Courtesy of Jay Huang’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Rod Waddington’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License