China may scrap the crime of sex with underaged prostitutes and reclassify it as rape, which carries much heaver punishment.
Under the current law, people convicted of sex with prostitutes under the age of 14 are sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison. However, those convicted of rape can face the death sentence.
The crime was written into the Criminal Law in 1997, but experts and the public have long argued that it allows perpetrators to dodge more severe punishment by claiming that the girl had given her consent or had lied about her age.
“There is no need to define such a crime. Having sex with minors should be considered rape, no matter who she is and what she does,” Jia Chunmei, a prosecutor from north China’s Hebei Province and an NPC deputy, was cited as saying in a Xinhua report.
Lao Dongyan, an associate professor of the Tsinghua University Law School, has suggested that legislators classify “rape of minors” as its own law to further protect underaged girls.
The decision on whether to reclassify the crime will likely be made by August 29, the end of the NPC Standing Committee’s bi-monthly legislative session.