China police defend actions in search for missing teenager

Police in China’s southern Guangdong province have defended their actions in trying to return a 14-year-old girl to her parents after they allegedly attempted to sell her into marriage.

The girl had gone missing from her village in Quzhou in the early hours of last Saturday after she became distraught over the story of her elder sister, also 14, who was allegedly forced into marriage, according to state news agency Xinhua.

“When she went missing, members of the police and other government departments swiftly located her at home,” the police department said in a statement on its official Weibo account on Saturday.

“After being warned on the phone by her concerned parents, the parents went to a medical clinic to seek her missing report from the police,” it added.

After their daughter’s return, the girl’s mother told a local news outlet that they had been attempting to marry her off to a man aged just 11.

“I felt like I was about to have a horrible accident. I was lying in a hospital bed and I suddenly heard someone screaming. That’s when I got hysterical,” the girl told the paper.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese have been forced into the country’s vast family planning system, with forced weddings and marriages among the most widely condemned.

Last year, China’s supreme court ruled that married women be allowed to demand a divorce without their families’ permission, and that boys can demand an abortion if the pregnancy was not wanted.

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