A mother of two in northwestern China is struggling to make ends meet after her husband was arrested for probing on factories that make shoes for Ivanka Trump’s brand.
Deng Guilian, 36, who currently works at a karaoke parlor in Xiangyang, Hubei Province, has a 7-year-old daughter, Chen Chen, and a 4-year-old son, Bo Bo.
Sadly, her overnight shift in the city prevents her from spending quality time with her children.
It was in May 2017 when Deng’s husband, Hua Haifeng, was accused of using recording devices to investigate labor abuses in a factory that supplied shoes for Ivanka Trump’s brand.
Hua was taken into custody along with two others for 30 days. Upon release, he was ordered to keep silent about the issue.
Unfortunately, Hua was under other restrictions that ultimately affected his capacity to find work.
“They said, ‘You only need to know that your husband has been arrested on criminal charges. You don’t need to know anything other than that,’” Deng told NPR at the time.
“I understand and support my husband’s work. I feel his work is legal and meaningful, so why should they arrest him?”
While Ivanka Trump has since committed to “the lives of countless women and girls,” and found “an unprecedented opportunity to advocate for change,” she has remained silent about labor conditions in her Chinese suppliers. Workers are allegedly forced to work overtime, paid as low as $1 an hour, and berated for the simplest mistakes.
The Huajian Group, responsible for the factory in question, denied the allegations. It produces 20,000 pairs of shoes for Ivanka Trump every year.
Li Qiang, founder of China Labor Watch, told the Associated Press via The Washington Post:
“As a public figure, she has the ability and resources to not only work on labor conditions at her own brand’s factories, but also to help improve labor conditions of the global supply chain as a whole. However, she did not use her influence to do these things.”
Since Hua’s arrest, Deng knew she had to move to support the family. Nonetheless, she remembers the good in her husband:
“Maybe he’s not such a big, important person. But every time he helps a worker resolve a problem, put yourself in that person’s position. Personally, I think it’s a very meaningful thing to do.”
For selling snacks and drinks from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Deng earns under 2,000 yuan ($316) a month, and shares a bed with a coworker in a dormitory.
While her accommodation is free, her salary isn’t enough to sustain the family’s needs. More importantly, her children are dealing with the loss of their father — her absence from home isn’t making things any better, either.
On one of her free days, Deng asked her children if they wanted to see her before she went off. Bo Bo would come with her to close the gate behind her.
Chen Chen, who was busy coloring, answered with one word: