Have you been to the Women’s Fed­er­a­tion dat­ing agency?

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Wang Pian­pian

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.

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