A single mother in eastern China who beat her daughter repeatedly for not doing well enough in school has lost custody of the 12-year-old.
Chongchuan District People’s Court in Nantong, in China’s Jiangsu province, stripped the mother, Li Ping, and her ex-husband, Zhang Jian, of custody of their daughter, who is only known as Jiajia to protect her identity, ThePaper.cn reported on April 20.
According to court documents, Li was determined that her daughter go to one of the “top three or top five” universities in the country, so she beat the girl regularly to “improve her academic scores”.
Jiajia, who had lived with her mother since her parents divorced eight years prior, was in grade six at school but was forced to take the English band-4 and band-6 test papers, which are designed for students at the university level, the news report reported.
Whenever Li was not satisfied with the scores Jiajia had achieved, she would hit her, causing scars across her entire body from the beatings.
In April last year, the young girl’s grandmother, Liu Guiying, reported the attacks to police after seeing her granddaughter’s face and head swollen from another beating. At that time, Li had punished her daughter for not reciting a text to her.
Police immediately issued a domestic violence warning letter to Li, the Yangtze Evening News reported.
But even after a court ordered a personal protection order in January, the assaults continued.
The attacks included hitting the girl’s hand with a searingly hot cooking spatula when she did not complete her homework in time. The homework had not been assigned by the school but instead by Li to better her daughter’s academic performance, said the report.
After the girl’s desperate grandmother pleaded for the court to remove Jiajia from her mother’s care, an investigation by the Renai Social Work Development Centre was ordered.
The centre later reported that their investigation revealed that Jiajia constantly worried and was not as “active or happy” as her peers. It also found her mother’s assaults had significantly harmed the young girl’s physical and mental health.
The girl’s father, Zhang, was also stripped of custody after it became known that he had been aware of the physical attacks on his daughter by her mother but failed to protect her.
The court appointed the grandmother as Jiajia’s new legal guardian. No further punishments were handed down to the parents, the newspaper reported.
The adage, “spare the rod, spoil the child”, still holds firm across mainland China as a traditional belief that claims parents who do not discipline their children will raise spoiled kids.
It is also uncommon for domestic assaults against children to end up in court. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee, China’s top lawmaking body, said it was considering enforcing a ban on parents spanking their children, even under the guise of “educating them”.
Jiang Jiehua, an associate professor in law from Shanghai University said that although there are laws in China that forbid corporal punishment on juveniles, it is difficult for the authorities to identify or prosecute the offenders as it is often hidden behind closed family doors.