Civil servant’s son sets teen girl on fire after being rejected

February 26, 2012Jing Gao4 Comments,

From Sina Weibo

Zhou Yan, 17, will never forget what happened to her on September 17, 2011. After she turned down her classmate Tao Rukun, who had been courting her assiduously, Tao poured kerosene oil on her and set fire to her to disfigure her face. Zhou’s face, neck and chest area were severely burned. Her one ear was also mutilated. Over 30% of her total body surface area has been covered with burns.

Desperate for media attention and bringing justice to Tao, Zhou Yan’s mother finally resorted to the Internet, and published posts that gave a detailed account of the happening. Within 24 hours after the post appeared on Sina Weibo on February 24, over 100,000 shared the story.


Zhou Yan (before getting burned)


Zhou Yan after getting burned


According to Ms. Li, the girl’s mother, Tao and Zhou went to the same high school in Hefei, Anhui province in eastern China. Both Tao’s parents are civil servants working respectively at the city’s statistics bureau and urban planning bureau. At around 6 p.m. on the fateful day, Tao broke into Zhou’s home, poured kerosene oil on her head and then ignited the fuel while reportedly yelling “Go to hell!” Zhou’s aunt, on hearing Zhou’s screams, came over and put out the fire with a comforter before she called the ambulance and the police. It is said that during the entire process, Tao was unperturbed and standing aside.

Zhou Yan in bed, with her mother Ms. Li at her bedside.

Zhou was not out of danger until after a 7-day stay in intensive care. Meanwhile, Tao’s parents asked Zhou’s family to sign a letter affirming that Tao was actively involved in the rescue and turned himself in to the police. They even wanted to settle it behind closed doors. After Zhou’s family refused to sign it and insisted on bringing Tao to trial, the Taos stopped paying Zhou’s hospital bills. Unable to afford the expenses, Zhou’s parents had their daughter discharged from the hospital. Until the day they spread the news, the Zhous still owed the hospital more than 100,000 yuan (US$15,800).

Zhou’s mother said Zhou now is mentally unstable.

The Weibo post soon caused public uproar over the spoiled son from a privileged family. However, it turns out the Taos’ political clout is not in the least high enough to help their son escape punishment. Both the police in Hefei and Tao’s parents, eager to diffuse the rumor that Tao has been given bail and to appease the public anger, wrote on Sina Weibo that Tao remains in detention and will be subjected to justice, but to no avail.


Translation of Hefei police’s public announcement (above) on Weibo (23,093 shares and 14,047 comments):

Regarding the case of Tao xx physically harming Zhou xx, the police fully understand most Weibo users’ abhorrence of evil and sympathy to the victim. The following is the reply by the police to relevant questions that Weibo users are concerned with:

1, Tao xx has always been in detention and never bailed out.

2, Because for a long while after being injured, the victim had been in hospital and receiving treatment, and her condition hadn’t been stabilized, we weren’t able to assess her injury. The police has carried out an assessment of her injury just recently. Once the result comes out, the police will make it public.

3, Everyone is equal in front of the law. The police will handle the case based on the facts, in accordance with the law and with fairness.

Selected comments on the post:

闾丘露薇: With regard to this case, what I pay attention to is: 1, Has anyone interfered with the delivery of justice? Because vowing to take action is different from take actual action; 2, Will the court ruling be independent and based on legal principles? 3, The mechanism for providing aid and relief to victims. Not just this victim, but many others like her. If the offender does not pay damages ordered by the court, who will be helping the victim?

AhBuJa:If it were not for Weibo and the media…Just stop faking. Every Chinese knows they are up to some monkey business.

Rola七色:There hasn’t been no official announcement for so long after the incident until now? An obvious inaction. A bunch of parasites.

飞儿Sophie:You don’t assess the severity of injury until now, and you have the gall to say there is no dirty trick??!!


Translation of  the Weibo post (above) by Tao’s father: (42,892 shares and 67,709 comments)

Apology: I, Tao Wen, am an employee of Hefei Bureau of Statistics. Because I did not bring up my son properly, my son Tao Rukun has brought to Zhou Yan and her family irreversible harm and pain. I feel deep remorse for it, and want to express my regret to netizens. I will try my best to help treat Zhou Yan. Tao Rukun has been detained, and the case is following the judicial process. I will accept the court ruling and never dodge due legal liability.

Selected comments on the post:


Stella_360:If his parents were not officials, would he be so lawless? If his parents were not officials, would this case have stalled for so long? Don’t tell me that parents who are officials feel deep remorse. They will try as best as they can to get their son off! It is definitely the first time their son committed a crime! I strongly call for justice!

郁泠龙:Honestly, the parents should definitely be held accountable for having raised such a rampant son. It is easy to imagine that they doted on their son too much. So I don’t doubt that after it happened, their parents would bail him out, as long as they can also protect themselves. If one can do this at such a young age, it won’t be surprising if he later on kills people and burn houses. A hidden peril for the society.

李想:It’s been about half a year since it happened. If it were not for Weibo, would you still say you feel deep remorse? Would you say you would try your best to help with treatment? If you had done these, would the family of the victim be force to talk about it on Weibo months later? Last but not least, what you should shoulder is moral liability. It is your inhuman son who should shoulder legal liability!

草原柴狗:Any verbal apology is useless. Just save the poor girl before you promise anything else! Don’t bully people with your power.

暖暖的厚实感:You son deserves death penalty!!! Such an adorable girl is ruined. It wouldn’t be enough even if you offer all your family fortune! You damn beast!

Photos showing Zhou Yan in her childhood are placed on her table.

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4 comments to “Civil servant’s son sets teen girl on fire after being rejected”

  1. Ingrid S. | February 26, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I hope Zhou, her parents, friends and relatives will find the strenght to cope with this irreversible damage – and that at least they will be compensated so that Zhou can continue to receive the medical and psychological attention that she obviously needs. If there is no structural domestic violence or partner violence approach, this should be a clear sign of what damage it can do individually, but also inside a society – this pattern of violence that repeats itself over and over again. If there is no proper response to Tao Rukun’s action he will do it again, may be in a different form, like so may others. There can be no excuse for this kind of behaviour – which can possibly the result of an attachment problem, witnessing violence as a child, being a victim of violence etc. Tao Rukun (and his parents) should take responsability for his action – and should also be able to reveive the proper psychological treatment in combination with monitorig for a long time so that he will never do such a thing again. Saying sorry is not enough.

    • Chairman of the Bored | March 2, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      Ingrid S. Shut up bitch! Do you know nothing of the underlying cause here as it relates to chengguan? or local officials? Then you don’t know shit about Chinese culture and the real reason this privileged asshole feels he has the right to ruin a girls life just because he can’t have what he wants! But I am glad you are reading the real news inside China, now read some more and get a clue before assigning stupid Western psycho babble reasoning to a Chinese problem that is about corruption and class.

    • lol | March 8, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      @Ingrid S.

      Please STFU b!tch.

  2. yongsgift | June 24, 2012 | Permalink Reply


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