The 22-year-old Chinese woman had only been married for six months when her husband and in-laws killed her because she had not been able to have a child, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The woman, identified only by court documents by her surname Fang, was from China’s eastern Shandong province. She died on January 31, 2019, according to the Xinhua report.
Yucheng People’s Court in Shandong heard the woman’s husband and parents-in-law abused her, denied her food and left her outside in freezing temperatures in the winter as a form of punishment.
In January, they were found guilty of abuse, an indictment applied when the alleged perpetrators are family members. It has a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
7;s husband and his parents were later sentenced to between two and three years in prison. The court had decided to give a milder sentence because “each defendant was able to truthfully confess the relevant facts of the crime that constituted a confession and showed remorse”, according to the verdict, published by the state newspaper People’s Daily.
The rulings led to nationwide uprisings and discussion of broader societal issues surrounding women and violence. Re-examination was ordered in April, but it could not reassure public criticism.
On Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter, the hashtag page of history had been viewed 290 million times, with many leaving comments expressing their disgust and disbelief.
“This violent man received a light sentence because he was wearing the marriage cloak,” wrote one user.
Other comments expressed frustrations that the country’s legal and social systems continued to fail vulnerable women; that infertility is more stigmatized in women than in men; and that the verdict easily seemed to forgive violence against women.
In a rare open challenge to China’s sinister, authoritarian justice system, some also pointed to minor crimes that could be punished with far harsher sentences. Several users cited the crime by owning or selling toys or replica cannons – for which a teenager was famously sentenced to life in prison in 2015. His sentence was commuted to seven years on appeal.
“Selling toy guns and writing small pornographic books is all punishable by 10 years. Is a life so worthless?” wrote about user on Weibo.
On Tuesday, in the face of growing public outrage, the Yucheng People’s Court reiterated the April statement ordering resumption.
The resumption was not ordered due to a perceived abortion on justice – rather it was sent back due to a technicality.
“The court of first instance did not have an open trial and failed to protect the statutory litigation of the prosecutor Yang, who violated the trial,” the court said in a statement.
This case comes just a month after yet another gruesome murder that raised similar concerns over inadequate protection of women. Lhamo, a Tibetan farmer and livestreamer in China, streamed a video of himself last month when a man broke in and set her on fire. Authorities are investigating her violent ex-husband.