The Hunan Provincial Reeducation-through-labor Management Committee on Friday overturned its 18-month sentence for petitioner Tang Hui, whose daughter was kidnapped, raped and forced into prostitution six years ago.
The committee approved the release of Tang, from Yongzhou, Hunan Province, ruling that she should be reeducated without detention. Tang had protested in front of local government buildings and in public areas to demand harsher punishment of those who had abused her now 17-year-old daughter, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Tang's lawyer, Hu Yihua, accompanied her upon her release from the provincial reeducation-through-labor center Friday morning. Tang, who had served eight days in detention, was reunited with her husband in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province.
"We were satisfied with the result after we lodged an appeal to authorities requesting they review Tang's detention on Tuesday, but we think authorities still need to reflect on their behavior and consider its legality," Hu told the Global Times on Friday.
Tang's husband, Zhang Jie, expressed his gratitude for public support that helped secure her release.
"My wife would never have been able to get out so soon without the media's attention," he told the Global Times.
Calls to Yongzhou police went unanswered on Friday.
Zhang added that his 39-year-old wife is currently resting in a Changsha hotel. Both parents plan to see their daughter, who is being cared for by relatives, on Saturday morning.
Zhang and Tang's daughter, Lele (pseudonym), was kidnapped, raped and forced into prostitution six years ago when she was aged just 11. She was forced to perform more than 100 sexual acts before her parents rescued her on December 30, 2006, according to Xinhua.
Her forced prostitution caused her to contract a venereal disease and lose the ability to have children.
Police committed Tang to a reeducation-through-labor center last Thursday, a day after she had returned to Yongzhou from Beijing and declared she would no longer petition.
Tang's detention was exposed online and quickly sparked anger among Web users. More than 1.6 million posts on Sina Weibo were made about her case, with much criticism in the media directed at Yongzhou police.
Six days after Tang was detained, a special Hunan police taskforce was sent to Yongzhou to investigate her case.
Tang petitioned for six years after her daughter was rescued to demand those responsible for forcing her into prostitution be brought to justice.
Due to obstruction from local police, however, the case wasn't heard in court until this year, 21st Century Business Herald reported.
On June 5, the Hunan Provincial Higher People's Court sentenced two of the prostitution ring's leaders to death. Four others were given life sentences for raping Lele, while another defendant received a 15-year jail term.
After the court's ruling, Tang continued to petition to demand the death penalty for all seven defendants. She also requested a police officer be investigated for trying to help overturn the death penalty of one of the prostitution ring's leaders, Xinhua reported.
A deputy director from the publicity office of the Department of Justice of Hunan Province, Zhang Xianglin, admitted to the Global Times on Friday that Yongzhou police had made the wrong decision in detaining Tang.
"By reversing their previous decision to have her detained, they have essentially admitted it was the wrong move," he said.
Deng Fei, a prominent children and women's rights activist, told the Global Times that Tang's case wasn't over, stressing that Yongzhou police should reflect on their treatment of petitioners.
"There should be regulations in the processing of reeducation-through-labor inmates to prevent similar incidents from happening again," Deng said.