Ding Jiali, star of the famous Chinese television series Chuang Guandong (Brave The Journey to Northeast), has won widespread respect, and admiration for recently admitting to having had four abortions, and the toll that this has taken on her.
She cites her daughter as the inspiration for revealing her most private story to the world, saying, “I do hope that my daughter won’t make the same mistakes that I did.” In retrospect, Diang realizes that her parents did teach her to be a decent person but, like many young people, she rebelled against their guidance.
Ding tells the story of her first abortion: “I met my boyfriend a year after I graduated from college. The relationship soon turned sexual, which demonstrated my inability to be responsible for myself. Traditional Chinese teachings say that ‘a woman should cherish her chastity as jade’. Worse still, I became pregnant and we weren’t married.”
“Working as a film actress, I was always in the spotlight and did not want the news of my pregnancy to spread. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about this so, in the end, I decided to undergo a dilation, and curette procedure. This took place in a small village on the outskirts of Beijing. I lay on the operating table, helpless, and humiliated. I had never felt so ashamed.”
But Ding Jiali didn’t learn her lesson from this ordeal. She married a businessman who was often away on long trips. She betrayed him on one of his trips away from home, again getting pregnant. When she told her lover that she was pregnant, he said: “How do you know it’s my child? If you can cheat with me, how do I know I’m the only one? Just leave me alone.” Ding was dumbfounded, and burst into tears.
This resulted in Ding’s second abortion. Straight after the procedure, she went to northeast China to film a movie. It was freezing at that time of year, with temperatures at 40 below zero. She suffered from many health problems, prompting a hospital visit when the filming was finished. Ding said, “it turned out that I was suffering from acute-on-chronic pelvic inflammatory disease as a consequence of abortion. Furthermore, I also suffered endocrine disorders, serious gastric disease, and many other problems. It was torturous but in fact, I deserved it!”
When Ding’s husband returned, and learnt of her betrayal, he left her straight away. She got married again, this time to a man who cheated on her. She said, “I think the saying that ‘evil is rewarded with evil’ did really occur to me at the time. Cheating is immoral, and is against the moral code as well as the virtues of women!” It’s now been 18 years since her second divorce, leaving her to raise two children as a single parent.
Ding is very regretful about the mistakes she has made in her past. Abortion can lead to endocrine disorders, uterine perforation, and lifelong infertility. The consequences of teen abortion can have even more risks. According to statistics, at least five million abortions are performed each year in China, and half of these are young girls.
When Ding was working with a cultural arts group in Beijing, she became friendly with one of the other performers, a charming girl, who was 21 years old. The fairy-like actress’ performance was impeccable, but the group ostracized her due to her pre-marital pregnancy, and subsequent abortion. Ding met up with her again many years later, and was shocked by her appearance. The girl who had once looked like a fairy had suffered from many tribulations in the years since their time together as young performers, and these had taken their toll on her.
Reflecting on her long career, Ding expresses her regret over some of the obscene films she acted in, noting their detrimental effect on society. She said, “the 5000 years of Chinese culture has taught us that we should not think in an evil way, that is, we should always harbor pure, and compassionate thoughts. However, contemporary audio, and video media, newspapers, and magazines are contrary to the ancient sages’ teachings as what is covered by the media nowadays encourages evil thinking.” Now Ding has become determined that she will never act in pornographic or violent films.
Ding was recently offered a huge amount of money to act in an adaptation of a pornographic novel that was written during the Ming Dynasty.
Not only did she reject the offer, she also called other actresses, and asked them not to take part in the film.
“As long as I know about these projects, I will do my best to stop them. I would also urge other actresses not to act in these kinds of films. After all, there are many magnificent stories to be told from our ancient culture — why should we act for these films?” she said.
“Looking back at the first half of my life, I’ve come to know that the starting point is very important for women. As a saying goes, ‘a single slip can cause a lasting sorrow’. I’d like to urge young girls to cherish their chastity. Only if we respect ourselves, will others respect us. After all, love begins with self-love. Only after we cherish ourselves, can we have true love that will last forever with blessings, and happiness.”
Translated research by Billy Shyu and Monica Song.