Have you been to the Women’s Federation dating agency?
China’s largest online travel service platform, Ctrip, made headlines recently following a horrendous child abuse case at its affiliated day-care center in Shanghai. A viral video shows its teachers physically and mentally harming several very young children, including forcing one toddler to eat a tube of spicy wasabi; parents believe this cruelty has been going on there for a long period. An investigation into the incident is still taking place.
The latest media reports now say the company that owns and operates this particular day-care center is not Ctrip but a unit under the supervision of the Shanghai Women’s Federation founded in 1950 for the advancement of women. The federation claims to provide links between the government and women while working to represent and protect women’s rights and promote equality between men and women.
I myself first heard of the Women’s Federation in Beijing three years ago after a friend referred me to its affiliated dating agency, saying it was “official, accountable and free due to its NGO background.” When I arrived at the agency, located in a residential area, I was literally the only customer there. A female employee started off by bragging about their strong affiliation with the Women’s Federation, something that I noticed they also did on their website by posting photos of their events being attended by high-level leaders.
She then told me I’d have to pay 20,000 yuan ($3,012.14) to upgrade from their free, basic membership to VIP level, adding that, truth be told, “only VIP members ever found a successful match.” After an hour of listening to her bombard me with an aggressive sales pitch but still refusing to fall for it, I was led into the office of their general manager.
The general manager, also a female, started off by saying their relationship with the Women’s Federation has helped many local women lead better lives by finding wealthy men to marry. “You should see the 20,000 yuan fee as an investment, so that you needn’t work so hard and to ensure that you and your family have a good future.” This is when I told them I had to use the toilet; my plan was to
duck into the hallway and escape the building, but both women literally followed me to the bathroom. Next, I told them that I forgot my debit and credit card, but that also wasn’t good enough to get them off my back. So I handed over 50 yuan cash to “reserve” my membership, claiming I would come back to pay the rest later. Then I got the heck out of there. By the time it was all over, four hours had passed!
After that day I received numerous phone calls from a variety of different numbers, all leading back to that agency. I checked online and found that many other people had the same suffering experience with this particular dating agency. I complained to the city’s official consumer protection association, but they were of no help.
You see, under the umbrella of the Women’s Federation, this dating agency is protected against any consumer complaints. Which is really unfortunate, because not every person like me has done their due diligence; there are many who will fall for their sales pitch and hand over 20,000 yuan.
However, now that the Ctrip day care scandal has exposed the Shanghai Women’s Federation’s poor judgment, perhaps local governments will also crackdown on these types of aggressive dating agencies. The federation claims to be working for the good of Chinese women and children, but past evidence suggests that they are failing. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.