BEIJING: Footage of a 92-year-old Chinese woman reportedly kept for years by her son in a pigsty has incited an online firestorm, as China grapples with the question of how to provide for its increasingly ageing population.
The woman, surnamed Yang, was kept in a pigsty by her son and daughter-in-law, who did not provide her with enough food or clothing and constantly beat and scolded her, according to the local Nanguo Morning News based in the southern Guangxi region.
A video of the woman´s appalling living conditions appeared on China´s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo.
"I cannot see things," said Yang feebly, inching herself towards the bars of her enclosure.
Her son and daughter-in-law claimed Yang had voluntarily moved into the doorless, fence-and-stone-enclosed "kitchen" beside their house, denying that she was kept in a pigsty, the Nanguo Morning News said.
Photos of a rag-clad Yang being rescued by local government officials appeared on Weibo after the video went viral earlier this month. She is now being treated at a local hospital, but has not fully recovered.
The videos and photos infuriated Chinese netizens, who accused her children of "inhumane" and "animalistic" behaviour, saying that the son and daughter-in-law "will be treated in the same way by their children when they get old".
China´s population is rapidly ageing, and weaknesses in its elder care system have left hundreds of millions in dire straits, often without access to proper care and assistance.
The problem is even more severe in the country´s vast rural areas, where elderly people are often left alone while their children migrate to big cities for jobs.
In 2013 China passed an "elderly rights law" which included provisions that required children to regularly visit their parents, among others.
The country now has more than 212 million people over the age of 60, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
(Photo credit: Weibo)