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The teenager boarded a train bearing an advert explaining her family's circumstances (file photo) REUTERS

A teenage girl has sparked a public debate in China after she tried to sell her virginity to pay for life-saving cancer treatment for her brother.

The 19-year-old high school student named Xu Yanhua, was spotted on Monday (14 November) on a subway train in Hangzhou, bearing a placard on which she explained that she was selling her body for 200,000 Chinese yuan (£23,405) in a desperate attempt to raise necessary funds for her brother's medical bills.

"The treatment will cost more than 200,000 yuan. My family can't afford it. Which kind-hearted person can save my brother?" the sign read.

Xu, a student from Qiubei County in Yunnan Province said her brother, 23, was diagnosed with leukaemia three years ago. She explained that her family had already spent all their savings on a bone marrow transplant, but the treatment was unsuccessful.

Sharing her contact details, including her phone number and a social media screen name at the bottom of the sign, she said she needed the money to save her brother's life.

According to, Xu also claimed to have a hospital-issued certificate proving she is a virgin. A reporter then visited Xu's brother at his hospital ward in Zhejiang People's Hospital and informed him of his sister's attempt to sell her virginity.

Revealing that he knew nothing of her plan, he told the reporter: "Now I know how foolish she is."

He added that he wanted his sister to return back home and continue her studies.

While Xu Yanhua's advertisement was met with anger by her brother, police also heard about her plan and warned her, that while her intentions were honourable, advertising for sex is illegal.

Her friends have expressed their consternation, but were aware that she had searched on google for ways to save her brother. Her roommate, Ji Jiayan, described Xu as a "simple and kind-hearted girl" who had tried to solve the problem in a "very innocent way," according to

Xu's attempt to sell her virginity has sparked a public debate in China, where a woman's virginity is treasured, prompting 73,000 people to comment on Xu's unorthodox fund-raising method.

While some expressed sympathy and concern for the teenager, many condemned her actions. "If I were your brother, knowing what you have done, I would live in pain for the rest of my life even if I recovered," said one commentator.

"Attention-seeking behaviours like selling virginity are very indecent," argued another. "Many people are also in difficult situation. Why can't she think of other means?"