A Chinese man was sentenced to death for murdering his ex-wife during her livestream, a court ruled Thursday, in a case that shocked the country and raised nationwide outrage over domestic violence.
Amuchu, a 30-year-old Tibetan vlogger known on social media as Lamu, died after being doused in gasoline and set on fire by her former husband Tang Lu in September last year.
She died of her injuries in hospital two weeks later.
Amuchu divorced Tang — who had a history of violence towards her, the court said — in June 2020, only months before she was murdered at her father’s home.
He was sentenced to death for intentional homicide by a court in Aba Prefecture, a remote rural region of southwest Sichuan province with a large number of ethnic Tibetan residents.
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.
At the time, her death triggered an online outcry over the under-reported issue of domestic violence in rural communities — especially where it affects ethnic minorities.
On Douyin — China’s version of TikTok — Amuchu regularly posted videos of her daily life foraging in the mountains, cooking and lipsyncing to songs dressed in traditional Tibetan clothing.
After her death, tens of thousands of grieving followers commented on her Douyin page, while millions of users on the Twitter-like platform Weibo demanded justice using trending hashtags that were later censored.
China only criminalised domestic violence in 2016, but the issue remains pervasive and under-reported, especially in under-developed rural communities.
Around one in four married Chinese women have experienced domestic abuse, according to a 2013 survey by the All-China Women’s Federation.
Activists say victims’ repeated complaints are often not taken seriously by police until it is too late, with the issue often regarded as a private family matter in the country’s conservative culture.
There have also been concerns that a recent change to China’s civil code — which introduced a mandatory 30-day “cooling-off” period for couples wishing to divorce — may make it harder for victims to leave abusive marriages.