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Parents of a single woman in China are now at the center of a controversy after the story of how they allegedly stopped their 32-year-old daughter from marrying in favor of their son emerged online.
Tang Lu was reportedly planning to get married two years ago but was told by her parents to wait until her brother, who’s six years younger, gets married first, according to Chongqing Evening News (via Sixth Tone).
Lu’s story outraged netizens, with many pointing out that such exploitation of women is common in Chinese families.
Even more, Lu, who comes from a poor family in Chongqing in the southern province of Hubei, was recently told by her father over the phone that she needs to give 100,000 yuan ($14,575) to her brother. The money will reportedly be used by her brother to purchase a new home as he is about to get married this year.
“I don’t owe anything to this family, why should I pay such a big amount of money?” Lu was quoted as saying. She added that while her grandmother raised her, her parents paid little attention to her while she was growing up.
“He’s her brother by blood, she has to care [about him],” Lu’s father said. “She must give the money, and not a penny less. It’s the responsibility of an older sister.”
Netizens soon labeled Lu as “the real-life version of Fan Shengmei,” a popular character from the TV show “Ode to Joy”, a series similar to HBO’s “Sex and the City”.
The character of Fan Shengmei, like Lu, is frequently forced by her parents to pay her brother’s loans, gambling debts, and housing rent payments. Similarly, Fan Shengmei is also from a poor family with parents who favor their elder son over her. The character has become quite popular in China as many Chinese women have related to her story.
The lives of Chinese women have gone through significant changes throughout history and while recent efforts have found many to push for gender equality, challenges continue to stand in the way in favor of women in the historically male-dominated Chinese society.