China returns girl sold into forced marriage at age 14

Police in China have sent back a girl who was allegedly sold into forced marriage at age 14.

An investigative report in state media indicated that a man in Leshan, a city about 3,500 miles southeast of Beijing, said he bought a 14-year-old girl for 7,800 yuan ($1,200). It said the boy would then marry her when she turned 15.

The man, who was not identified, later met an anonymous person who said the girl was in her 18th year and has an aunt who would accept a dowry. The man said he went to court, where he was told he could not be charged with purchasing the child.

After getting no satisfactory answer to his repeated messages, the man met the girl’s aunt. “She just laughed in his face,” the report said. The report added that the girl was then held by her aunt for days before the man obtained police approval to fly to Leshan to meet her.

She was then “rescued from her aunt and reported to the police in Leshan,” the report said. She is now 14 years old and reportedly has two daughters.

In most parts of China, “giving” girls into forced marriage is so common it’s no longer even a government issue, according to China Media Project, a project of the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre.

When child sexual abuse was investigated by the local government in Anhui province, it was found that between 2006 and 2008, 106 girls were “given” by their parents. From 2006 to 2010, 98 out of 93 children listed as “bought and sold” were under 18 years old.

So too many incidents were reported in that era, according to China Media Project. But today, the pressure to offer girls into marriage has increased.

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