The Silence Is Screaming

This is a translation of a post by Chai Jing at Bokee.  The title of the post is "The Silence Is Screaming -- the notes of the reporter for 'The Investigation of Female Prisons'".



Someone was beating a woman.  He used a knife to slash her hands.  He used a bottle to poke at her eyes.  He pointed a gun at her back and he raped her.  He abused her sisters.  He killed her children.

In China, he can do that.  He can even do that in front of the people, and he won't be punished.

-- Because he is her husband.

We stood at the entrance to the home of An Ruihua.  There are several hundred empty wine bottles in the courtyard, half of them buried in the dirty snow.

No one has slept in the bedroom for three years.  It is like a deserted market.  For more than a decade, this was the most secret spot for a man and a woman.  Everything happened here.

She never fought back.  Until the children were threatened.

She killed him.  Twenty-seven knife stabs.

According to the police at the scene, his eyes were wide open and his face had a look of incredulity.

It must be the sound of the wind that makes the empty house sound like it is screaming.


Two years ago, when I worked at <<Eastern Time/Space>>, I wanted to work on this topic.  I kept a report from the Legal Studies Society.  On page 137, there is a number in the footnote on the bottom right corner: in the women's prison of Yunnan province, 60% of the prisoners who have killed violently did so as a result of family violence.

I did not have the chance to work on that project.

"There is a genetic factor that makes someone kill.  It has no relationship to family violence," said Xiao Hong said at a public forum.

Wang Jianfeng said, "If it were me, I would have f*cking waited until he fell asleep and then I would pour a bottle of hot water on him.  That'll guarantee that he'll be good."

A more moderate person said, "This is the usual thing.  There are too many reports on this subject already.  This is no longer a problem that the mainstream in society cares about.  It is always about violence."

But it is possible that the most serious problem between husband and wife is indifference.

Let us look -- in the women's prison in Inner Mongolia, the number is 70%; also in Liaoning, Henan, Hebei ... behind every number are people -- dead men.  There are also living women, all guilty of major crimes: death penalty suspended, death penalty suspended, life in prison, life in prison, life in prison ...

Marriage is the most intimate part of human life.  Why does this cause the cruellest damages among people?

This is a very regular problem.  It is.

Edgar Allen Poe said, "The stone is placed there.  It is the duty of the writer not only to let people know about it, but also to let people feel it."

I want to touch the soul of people, even if it is a bloodied soul.


In January, we are interviewing the mother of Dou Xiaohua.  The old lady got emotional and asked me repeatedly, "Can you get my daughter back?"

I squatted there and I looked at her without being able to respond.  I thought that I would let her vent a bit by saying a few things like that.

She got more and more excited.  In a flash, I remembered that she showed me her medicine and I said, "Don't get excited.  Your heart is not in good condition."

Before I even finished, I saw she fell backwards from the small stool.

Everything was in chaos.  I stopped those people who wanted to lift her up.  I found the cardiac medicine in her pocket and I put five pills into her mouth.

But she was quite incapable of swallowing.  The worse thing is her eyes -- they showed no sign of life.

At that moment, I knelt on the icy cold ground and I held her stiff body, thinking that she had died.

(Heavens! I am going to the first CCTV reporter who managed to have someone die during an interview.)

I raised my head and I saw that the cold-hearted Li Gui and Le Honghui were continuing to film.

Fortunately, she came back after five minutes and we took her back inside the house.

It was horrendous.

But her granddaughter was calm.

"What do you do when she acts like that?"

"I go and fetch the neighbors," the 13-year-old girl said.

A dead man, a woman who has lost her freedom, and the people left behind are the old and the young.

When the old person gets sick, she stays in bed and waits to die.  The children never have contact with outsiders and do not go to school.  They don't even have the money to go and see their mother in jail.

But when they grow up, they will have their own families -- what will that be like?

An Ruihua's daughter said, "I don't trust men.  They only know violence."

Her brother is 19 years old.  As soon as the incident took place, he left home.  They don't know who he is with, where he sleeps, what he eats.

What will happen to him in the future?  Nobody knows.

But meanwhile we have to move on to work on the youth crime problem for the next show.

It does not end.  It will never end.


From <<The Wounds of the Two Cities>>, <<The Maturation of the Heart>>, <<The Young Internet Addicts>> to <<The Investigation of Female Prisons>>, up to the current program on young criminals, I want to know this.  In Chinese society, the family is the most basic social element.  What state is it in?  Our most basic values and our understanding of morals and love are formed under what kind of environment and influenced by what kind of people?

These discoveries shake people up.

Just because this is a family, the husband can abuse the wife, the father can say nary a word to the son in ten years and the mother can shame her own daughter just like she abused her ex-husband.  One say tell the child who swallowed poison but was saved: "Why didn't you just die so you won't worry me anymore?"  When an 11-year-old child runs away from home, one can throw out all his things and never tried to look for him.  One can lock a child up in a mental hospital because he is addicted to the Internet.  One can also teach one's son to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and hate others ...

Within a house known as a "home," one can treat others like this.

Just because the other person is a wife, husband or child.

No one knows what happens inside this house just as long as the door is quiet shut.


All the shrieks and screams inside sound like wind from the outside.


But the children in this family will grow up and they will pass you in the street one of these days.  Perhaps he becomes a robber armed with a gun, or else he becomes a compulsive eater, or else he becomes your colleague, your boss, or maybe the person that you love ... perhaps ... perhaps he becomes me or you.

In this family, one sees and learns everything.  Perhaps one day, one becomes the person that one hates and rejects most when one was young.

When that time comes, who is the authoritative figure?  Who is going to tell the others to 'shut up'?  Who is going to draw pleasure from hurting others?  Who is going to stay silent?  Whom will the helpless one cry to for help?

The truth inside people's hearts may be more even more frightening than any system or ideology.

But you can't go and ask: Whose fault is it?  Who should be monitoring?  Who is responsible?

For a reporter, the most difficult adventure is the path that reaches into people's hearts.