A Chinese online influencer with nearly one million followers has died after her ex-husband allegedly set her on fire during a livestream, in a case that has rippled across social media in the country.
Lamu was a 30-year-old vlogger who went by Black Girl Rahm on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, where she had over 885,000 followers. She died in the hospital on Wednesday, Sept. 30 after efforts to save her life failed, according to AFP. She was known for videos that show her foraging in the mountains, cooking, and lip-syncing to songs dressed in traditional Tibetan clothing.
According to state-media outlet the Beijing Youth Daily, Lamu was livestreaming on the evening of Sept. 14 when the screen suddenly went black. Her ex-husband, who was only identified by the name Tang, had reportedly broken into her home and doused her in petrol, holding a knife to her neck in one hand and a lighter in the other. Police have confirmed this.
She was brought to a local hospital but transferred to the Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital for further treatment. She was reportedly in a coma. Lamu’s family sought financial help from the public on Sept. 17 and managed to raise 1 million yuan ($147,265) in a day with the help of fans who donated. However, the fire burned 90 percent of Lamu’s skin, the BBC reported, and she died 16 days after the incident.
Tang was detained on suspicion of “intentional homicide” on Sept. 14, the Jinchuan County Public Security Bureau said in a statement. The Beijing Youth Daily reported that Tang has a history of domestic violence. Lamu’s brother-in-law, who was identified as Mr. Luo, shared that his wife mentioned her sister was often beaten by Tang.
Lamu and her ex-husband had been married for more than 10 years and had two sons but divorced in May. They each gained custody of one child. Lamu later remarried Tang after he allegedly threatened to kill one child if she did not do so, The Beijing Youth Daily reported. Lamu eventually left her husband again.
Tang reportedly questioned Lamu’s relatives about her whereabouts, allegedly even beating her sister. Lamu’s family said they reported this to the police but claimed that no action was taken, according to the Beijing Youth Daily.
Lamu eventually divorced her husband again and the latter gained custody of both children.
The vlogger’s death was met with widespread grief and sparked anger across Chinese social media. On the microblogging site Weibo, users paid tribute to Lamu by sharing her old videos and adding personal messages of condolences.
Many users described the news of Lamu’s death as a “painful heartbreak.” Others remembered the joy that her videos brought.
“She shared so much of her daily life with us. It’s painful to see that it has ended without any closure. May her soul rest in peace,” one Weibo user said.
“Her death was not only tragic, it was a disgusting and vile hate crime that was committed against a young woman,” said another Weibo user. “When will society finally start paying attention to domestic violence and abusers before it’s too late?”
A video of the late influencer dancing with her father proved particularly emotional for many Chinese social media users.
“This uncomfortable tragedy never should have happened. My heart goes out to her father who loved her very much. Out of everyone, her loss must have affected him the most,” one user commented.
In March 2016, China passed its first anti-domestic violence law that covers both physical and psychological abuse toward spouses, cohabitating partners, and other family members. But some say that it has been ineffective due to low public awareness and lenient punishments.
According to a report by UN Women, there were 533 deaths caused by domestic violence in China from March 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017.