Wei Qui and Ma Pinghui, both 16-year-old Chinese girls, were daughters of farm families in China and were “unskilled peasants.” One day, they saw an advertisement for a job opportunity to make false eyelashes in the city of Anshan. The advertisement promised salaries of $120 US per month. The ad was sponsored by the Labor Bureau of Huairen County. The girls decided to accept the job offer.
When they reached the factory where they were to work, however, they discovered that the contract they were to sign offered $24 US per month, as well as a $13 US room-and-board fee. In order to leave before the contract was over, they would need to pay a $58 US fee to the factory boss. Conditions of the factory were no better, and the girls worked 14-hour shifts making intricate patterns with human hair to create the eyelashes. It was impossible to meet the quotas which were necessary for bonuses, so their pay rate remained the same. All meals consisted of porridge and potatoes. When they decided they wanted to leave, they found they couldn’t pay the $58 US fee required for early termination of their contract. They decided that escape was the only way out. However, when attempting to escape, both girls broke their legs and were hospitalized. They were later released from the factory, and the factory itself was shut down.