China: Yue Chen

I would like to tell the women inmates and the policewomen in the prisons that we should be self-confident, self-respecting, and hopeful about the future.

— Yue Chen

Chen Yue, a Communist Youth League member, is from the city of Jianyang, Sichuan Province, and now serves as a policewoman in the Women’s Prison there. On one occasion she fought against armed robbers and, along with her younger brother, sustained injuries. The public’s initial indifference to their plight is what led Chen Yue to understand the importance of human compassion and work as a policewoman with women prisoners.

One day in December 2001, 21-year-old Chen Yue and her 17-year-old brother witnessed a robbery on the street. With no hesitation, they chased after the robbers and fought fearlessly. Their cries for help went unheard and none of the spectators even bothered to call the police. Both brother and sister were critically injured. The incident was widely covered in the media the next day and suddenly baskets of flowers began to arrive in their hotel rooms. For ten days there were endless queues of visitors, including teachers, schoolmates, friends, colleagues and Chengdu citizens who knew them only through the media. From the indifference of the onlookers to the enthusiasm of the public, Chen Yue experienced the two dramatic extremes. Her reaction to the robber was appraised as a “just act” – an impulsive response in a dangerous situation, an act that is not the result of rational consideration. As the head of the prison in which Chen Yue serves said, “I am not sure what would have happened if someone else were involved in this case, but Chen Yue’s reaction is nothing new to us.” Society’s responses to Chen Yue’s act reflect the hope and desire for decency and the rejection of indifference. After this incident the Provincial Fund for Just Acts increased from 80,000 yuan to one million yuan. Chen Yue is now a policewoman in charge of 16 inmates in a women’s prison. She considers her job worthwhile if she can help inmates assume new lives and identities in society with confidence. She believes that most inmates have committed crimes for reasons of compassion or finance, and not out of their own free will. Inmates having a better understanding of the laws are better able to protect their rights and themselves.