31 October 2008 – Beijing, China China has a reputation for one of the harshest criminal justice systems in the world. In 2007, for example, 38% of all of the reported executions worldwide, occurred in China, but according to Amnesty international the true numbers of executions was 15 or 20 times higher (7500 to 10,000 executions rather than the 470 reported). Some estimates are even higher, and some academics suggest that China executes as many as 20 times the number of people executed in all other countries combined. Among the five-dozen crimes punishable by death in China are tax evasion, political corruption, participating in organized crime, selling drugs, and a wide variety of others. Apparently not on that list of capital offenses, however, is killing one’s severely disabled child.Xinhua reported today on the trial of Li Daohong,47, who fed her daughter, Xiao Fei, 20, more than 200 sleeping pills and then smothered her with towels in January 2007.
Li was given a three-year jail sentence suspended for five years last week, by Beijing Haidian People’s Court.
”The court is convinced of the fact that the defendant has spent great energy and money on the victim, and the mounting psychological burden proved unbearable for her…”read out the judge in Li’s verdict.
Li’s case has stirred up fervent debates among the public.
”Li Daohong is forgivable emotionally, but not tolerable according to the law”, a netizen calling himself “Xiyang” writes. “The court should not spare her, as some people may follow her example and kill others just using the excuse of ‘mercy’.”
”Our society should shoulder the burden, but not Li. A wholesome social system should be set up to scientifically allocate the energy and money of the many volunteers who would like to help the disabled,” writes “Bingzi” in her blog.
Liao Fei, associate professor of social psychology, Renmin University of China, noted that social attention should be drawn to the disabled as well as their families.
”The families need not only material aid, but also psychological support. The tragedy could be avoided if Li Daohong had been helped to tell her despairs out and been distracted from them,” said Liao, “only by curing the family, can we cure the disabled.”
Families like this one do need and deserve the support of the community, and perhaps, it can even be said that the community shares in the blame for this kind of tragedy. However, the failure of the community to better share responsibility for children with disabilities, in China or in any other country, is never an excuse for killing a vulnerable person.