Was ‘cultural pressure’ to blame for Chinese aunt pouring super glue into baby’s ears?
Canadian police retract statement linking culture to horrific assault by jealous woman on infant nephew
Canadian federal police have retracted a press release which partly blamed “cultural pressures” for a Chinese woman’s horrific attack on her baby nephew, in which she poured super glue into the infant’s ears.
Wei Wang, 30, was convicted on December 5 of the aggravated assault on the then seven-week-old boy, identified only as Baby Y. It occurred in Richmond, British Columbia, which has the highest rate of Chinese ethnicity of any city outside Asia, at around 50 per cent.
The details of the case and conviction were outlined Tuesday in a press release issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, whose Richmond detachment is responsible for local policing in the Vancouver satellite city.
Wang is the mother of two daughters. A search warrant cited in press reports around the time of the 2013 attack said Wang’s family shared the Richmond house with her sister-in-law and her husband, the parents of Baby Y. Wang was said to be jealous when her husband’s sister had Baby Y, because Wang did not have a son and she feared losing out on an inheritance from the boy’s grandparents.
The RCMP statement described how the baby boy’s panic-stricken parents rushed their inconsolable son to hospital.
“As a physician was examining the infant, a mysterious residue was found on his ears. The physician commented on the substance’s chemical-like smell. What resulted was the shocking discovery of a hardened plastic-like substance covering the entrance to both of his ear canals. Painstaking surgery was required to remove the substance and the Richmond RCMP was contacted.
“The substance was later identified as super glue and how it arrived deep inside the infant’s ear canals was not by accident.”
The press release went on to say that “as investigators dug deeper, a bizarre tale unfolded of deceit, jealously [sic], and the cultural pressures to conceive male offspring”.
The linkage of the shocking abuse to “cultural pressures” on Wang, a Chinese national, was widely reported in Canada.
However, by the early hours of Wednesday, the statement had been scrubbed from the RCMP’s website, and a tweet referring to the statement deleted from the official @RichmondRCMP Twitter account.
Asked why the statement and tweet had been deleted, Acting Corporal Dennis Hwang, the RCMP media liaison officer who apparently issued the statement, said: “I am unable to speak about this topic any further. I apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
Queenie Choo, chief executive officer of the Vancouver immigrant support service SUCCESS, said that although there may be pressures to have male children among some Chinese immigrant families, a wide range of factors would have to be considered in such an extreme case of abuse.
“Firstly there is just personality. Secondly, the familial environment. Then the upbringing, the mental status of the individual, and also the educational background,” Choo said.
“It cannot be attributed only to culture. There are a number of factors that drive people’s behaviours, for example, in this case.”
Choo applauded the RCMP’s apparent decision to withdraw the statement. “I think it’s a good thing, the retraction of this statement.”
Baby Y was likely to make a full recovery, RCMP Corporal Chris Tarasoff said in the retracted statement. “This was a bizarre, yet extremely sad case. There were many investigators involved and it was emotionally trying at times. We do have a message though; we have zero tolerance towards any types of crimes against children,” Tarasoff was quoted as saying.
Wang was sentenced to four months in jail with a further two years of probation. She has since been released and ordered to stay away from her in-laws.
A man identified as Baby Y’s father by CTV News told the broadcaster on Tuesday he had suffered nightmares about the abuse of his child. “But now we are all ok,” he said.
Acting Cpl Hwang told CTV in an interview prior to the statement’s retraction: “Perhaps there are some cultural differences. Some cultures, they might value the birth of a boy more so than that of a girl. That may have contributed to it. Maybe some jealousy involved in that.”