Zhang Qi reportedly spent the last six years locked in a filthy shed, sleeping on hay and eating scraps of food.
The reason for the imprisonment may be even more shocking — a villager who shed light on the case claimed Qi’s parents locked her away because they hated her boyfriend.
Qi’s shocking story comes from China’s Hubei province, where authorities say the 24-year-old woman was forced to live inside a small stone building with a window almost completely covered by bricks.
A report from News.com.au claimed that Zhang Qi’s parents hated her boyfriend and forced the couple to break up in 2009. But Qi ran away several times to meet her lover, prompting her parents to lock her inside the building and tell others that the young woman was mentally ill and needed to be confined for her own protection.
It became a well known secret in the village of Jingang that Zhang Qi was being locked away in the shed, but no one dared to do anything.
“Her parents are powerful people here and everyone was told not to interfere,” villager Chow Jen said. “Everyone knew about the girl in the house.”
The case finally gained attention beyond the village when Chow Jen decided to let others know about Zhang Qi and what her parents were doing.
“I moved away and only come back to visit occasionally so I don’t care about their threats, and that’s why I was happy to expose these pictures online after the local authorities refused to do anything,” the villager said.
Chow explained that seeing the girl living in filth was just too much to bear:
“Every time I came back for Chinese New Year I went to visit her secretly.
“On my latest visit though I saw her lying on a pile of straw with a couple of blankets and some food around her and I just decided enough was enough.
“Whether what they say about her having mental problems is true or not, she is being treated like an animal here and I’m sick of it so I contacted the police, and then posted the images online.”
Chow also showed a pictured reportedly of Zhang Qi showing a gaunt young woman with sunken cheeks and bones protruding from her skin. She was laying on a bed of straw with a bag of food and a large plastic bottle filled with what appeared to be juice.
There is no word on whether police have taken action on Zhang Qi or what charges her parents might face for locking the young woman in a shed for six years.