A 14-year-old model from Russia who was working a grueling schedule in China as part of a “slave labor” contract collapsed and died after a 12-hour show in Shanghai, after which it was discovered that she was suffering from chronic meningitis exacerbated by lack of rest.
Vlada Dzyuba was to spend three months in China under a contract that would have only allowed her to work a maximum of three hours per week, but Russian media outlets have accused her handlers of forcing her to work much more, including the half-day show that culminated in her death.
“She was calling me, saying ‘Mama, I am so tired. I so much want to sleep,” her mother, Oksana, told Metro. “It must have been the very beginning of the illness. And then her temperature shot up. I didn’t sleep myself and was calling her constantly, begging her to go to the hospital.”
Oksana was unable to secure a visa to visit her dying daughter before she passed away, and she is now calling on the Russian government to investigate to determine whether Vlada was subjected to human rights abuses in the weeks leading up to her death.
“No one expected it to lead to such consequences,” said Elvira Zaitseva, the head of the modeling agency that connected Vlada to the three-month gig. “We are now reaping what we have sewn.”
Zaitseva confessed to not ensuring that Vlada had health insurance before letting her sign the contract. According to the Siberian Times, Vlada was too “scared” to seek medical attention because of the punishing terms of her contract. A Kremlin human rights ombudsman from Vlada’s home city of Perm has been assigned to investigate the case.