Man sentenced to death for setting ex-wife fatally on fire as she livestreamed on social media

Women call for better protection from domestic abuse in country, saying police dismiss complaints

Jane Dalton
Friday 15 October 2021 19:53 BST
Lhamo had thousands of followers thanks to her videos
Lhamo had thousands of followers thanks to her videos (Weibo)
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A man in China has been sentenced to death for killing his ex-wife by setting her alight as she was livestreaming on social media.

In a case that has prompted public outrage over domestic violence against women in the country, Tang Lu doused Lhamo in petrol and burnt her alive.

The 30-year-old Tibetan mother of two and video blogger, who used just one name, Lhamo, on China’s version of TikTok, was a social media star with hundreds of thousands of followers, theSouth China Morning Post reported.

Lhamo had divorced Tang twice, and according to state media, her family said that from March to June last year, she rang the police and the local branch of China’s All Women’s Federation several times to complain her ex-husband was abusing her.

Officers said it was a “family matter”, Vice reported.

The woman’s sister, who also uses only one name, Dolma, said that after the couple’s first divorce, Tang had threatened to harm the children and her family if she did not remarry him, the Wall Street Journal said. They were remarried late that month but she filed for divorce again in May after she was beaten, according to state media.

Tang then received custody of the couple’s children, state media reported.

Women in China say the case has highlighted a lack of protection for them in abusive marriages, including obstacles to getting a divorce, and demanded better protection.

When Lhamo refused to marry Tang a third time, he poured petrol on her and set her on fire as she was livestreaming to social-media followers in her kitchen, according to a statement from a court in Sichuan province.

She died after being treated in hospital for two weeks.

Lhamo, who had used her account on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, to sell farm products through videos and livestreaming, had repeatedly been beaten by Tang since they first married in 2009, the court said.

The court said his crime "was extremely cruel and the social impact was extremely bad," the court statement said, calling for "severe punishment" in accordance with the law.

China criminalised domestic violence in 2016, but it is pervasive and under-reported, especially in rural communities.

Activists say police often fail to take victims’ repeated complaints seriously police until it is too late, as the issue is often regarded as a private family matter.

Around one in four married Chinese women has suffered domestic abuse, according to a 2013 survey by the All-China Women’s Federation.

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