A 14-year-old Russian model has died in Shanghai last Friday after she felll ill at a fashion show and was reportedly too scared to ask for medical help.
Vlada Dzyuba, whose contract states that she is only permitted to work a maximum of three hours a week, collapsed into a coma after working for over 12 hours straight.
It is unclear what caused her death, with reports claiming she was diagnosed with exhaustion and chronic meningitis. An alternative account from Beijing claimed she had septicopyemia, with 'multiple visceral organs damaged, liver dysfunction and renal insufficiency.'
Her mother reported to NTV that she was crying down the phone: 'Mama, I am so tired. I so much want to sleep.'
This was before her temperatures rose sharply as she stepped out onto her next catwalk. Despite her mother’s pleas to get medical help, Vlada refused, eventually resulting in her death in hospital two days later.
Her mother couldn't see her for the final time after she was unable to obtain her visa, and it is now reported that her parents can't afford to fly her body home.
Elvira Zaitseva, the head of the modeling agency that Vlada used – Perm – has told the Daily Mail: ‘No-one expected it to lead to such consequences’.
But Zaitseva has also admitted to being unaware of the terms of Vlada’s contract or whether her medical insurance was genuine, despite being in charge of the trip.
Widespread criticism followed, raising concern about the care and oversight of the girl. Zheng Yi, founder of ESEE Model Management in Shanghai which represented Vlada in China, denied claims that she had been on a ‘slave labour’ contract.
Russia officials have now issued a statement that the police are investigating the girl’s death, and claims that she was working a 13-hour day. This would violate Russian law, which states that underage models can't work more than a three-hour day.
These new regulations were a promise to protect young children from the potential exploitation and sexual abuse they could encounter. But these rules do not necessarily extend to Asia. Laws there are briefer, with less focus on the care for models, even those underage.
And she is not the first young girl to have been exploited after being recruited to China. It is believed that if you are recruited by Chinese modeling companies, it increases your exposure and, thus, possibility of being hired by more major brands.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.