Woman was 18 when delivering first child, Gansu authorities clarify amid concerns over sexual abuse
Published: Mar 17, 2022 12:50 AM
A view of routine check for a pregnant woman Photo: VCG

A view of routine check for a pregnant woman Photo: VCG

Local authorities in Lanzhou, Northwest China's Gansu Province, tried to ease public concerns on Wednesday by clarifying that a young woman who was infected with COVID-19 in the city recently was actually 18 years old and not 15 when delivering her first child. The epidemiological information initially led to public concerns that she would have got pregnant as young as 14, which could have been a criminal offence in China.

Public concerns arose after Lanzhou authorities revealed the epidemiological information of some silent virus carriers on Sunday. The information said that one was a woman aged 27, whose 12-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son were also infected. 

Some netizens pointed out on Chinese social media platforms that, according to the information, the woman would have given birth to her daughter at 15 and she would have been pregnant as early as 14, questioning whether there were any criminal actions involved like rape or human trafficking. The age of sexual consent is 14 in China.

The concerns also came amid a nationwide campaign in China against people trafficking, following the controversy caused by a trafficked woman in Fengxian, East China's Jiangsu Province. 

Local authorities and local women's federations immediately launched an investigation into the case amid public concerns, according to media reports.

The authorities in Sanyuan in Lanzhou, where the woman was born, told the media on Wednesday that they found that the woman was actually born in February 1992, rather than in 1995 . 

So she actually gave birth to her daughter when she was 18 and not 15, the authorities said. 

A user of China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo who claimed to be the young mother involved released a post on Tuesday. She explained that her parents did not register her household information until she was more than four years old as they did not pay much attention to the issue. So the ID card said she was born in 1995. 

She also said she met her husband in 2008 and their relationship was normal.
The Sanyuan authorities confirmed with the media that the user was indeed the female silent virus carrier they had mentioned. 

After the clarification, some netizens said they felt reassured and sent their best wishes to the woman, hoping she can recover soon.

Some others urged local authorities to stay more vigilant as they should pay attention to such details during the epidemiological investigation, rather than only investigating after public controversy. 

Some others also pointed out that even though she was already an adult when having her first child, it is still a young age to have a baby at 18 as the legal age for marriage in China is 20. They urged local authorities to enhance education on love and marriage and enhance protection for woman's rights in less developed regions.