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Can Video of Yue Yue, a Toddler Left for Dead, Change China?

Yue Yue, the two-year-old toddler who was struck last Thursday by a van in a hit-and-run accident in Southern China, then ignored by some 18 people who passed by, then struck by a second van, died early Friday. 

Talk in China of new legislation, sparked by the little girl's inhumane death, is already underway. This surprising development says something important about the use of film and new media in creating change.

According to China Daily, “At least 10 Party and government departments and organizations in Guangdong, including the province's commission on politics and law, the women's federation, the Academy of Social Sciences and the Communist Youth League, have started discussions about punishing those who refuse to help people who clearly need it.”

Although no “Good Samaritan” law has been put into effect, it is important to realize that this move towards new legislation has been an extremely swift one, likely fueled not only by the nature of the tragedy itself, but by the gruesome footage of a tiny body lying in a pool of blood. This image provoked 1.9 million users to post comments on China’s most popular social networking site, Sina Weibo, within hours of Yue Yue’s passing. 

Yue Yue’s untimely and inhumane death has caused an ever greater stir in regards to the value of little girls in Chinese society and the responsibility of families and society to care for them than any video in all of history. And this has happened in a country that appears to care less about girls than boys—China has 37 million more men than women and is eliminating girls through prenatal sex-selection, infanticide and abandonment after birth.

The media frenzy and action that Yue Yue’s case has attracted around the world gives advocates for human rights in China a clear lesson in how to bring about lasting change: Get solid footage and upload it immediately to the Internet.

If one video of a small toddler on a side street in China can cause millions of people around the world to stop and rethink their own morals, and spur others to craft legislation that may save lives in the future, what sort of change is possible if we can capture the larger-scale, mass killing of girls on video?

What if there were videos of women crying, being dragged into abortion centers while others look on? 

What if there were videos of girls being born and immediately drowned or strangled because they’re not boys, while others witnessed the crime? 

And what there were videos of a family leaving its newborn daughter in a box outside the city because they can have only one child and they don’t want a daughter? 

Would this cause a similar commotion and stir a comparable amount of action?

Yue Yue’s tragic case makes me say yes, it would. And so we will continue to wait for brave souls to capture these atrocities on tape, knowing that change is possible—even in the People’s Republic of China.

Chai Ling is the former leader of the Tiananmen Square student protests and Human Rights Activist. She is the author of "A Heart for Freedom," and the founder of All Girls Allowed, a non-profit organization with the goal of exposing the harsh realities of China’s one-child policy and the ‘gendercide’ it fosters.