A supposedly 'mentally ill' woman in China has been released from captivity by internet activists, after being held by her family in squalid conditions for six years. Zhang Qi, 24, was freed by locals who had seen photographs of her posted online, which detailed the conditions of her confinement in an abandoned house in Xiaochang county, Hubei province, the South China Morning Post reports.
She is now recovering in a local hospital, but doctors reportedly said that she is suffering from muscle wastage because she had not been able to move for the past five years.
According to Yahoo News, Zhang's confinement arose from a dispute with her family in 2009 over a boyfriend they no longer wished her to see. Zhang had tried to flee her village, and her family told the community that she was mentally ill and needed to be locked up for her own protection, the report added.
The local woman who posted the images that sparked Zhang's rescue, however, said that the woman's plight was widely known in the area.
"Her parents are powerful people here and everyone was told not to interfere,” she told the Mirror. "Everyone knew about the girl in the house. I moved away and only come back to visit occasionally so I don't care about their threats, and that's why I was happy to expose these pictures online after the local authorities refused to do anything."
Zhang Qi got pregnant out of wedlock in 2009 when she was 18 years-old, and her parents forced her to abort the child, according to a report from local media sources. Other reports said that the girl's parents made her end a relationship with her boyfriend, but made no mention of a child.
Local authorities have yet to make an official comment on the case.