Five girls — one aged just 12 years old — were rescued by local police this week in Xining, Qinghai province, from a gang that forced them to work as prostitutes.
The fate of another five underage girls also reportedly held captive by the gang is unfortunately not known at this time. People’s Daily reports that the city’s public security bureau has arrested four suspected gang members and are still pursuing another.
The gang posted ads for sex online and after negotiating a price with clients, sent them photos of the girls and asked the customers to select one. The chosen girl would then be brought to the client, typically in a hotel room, and picked up afterwards. The gang kept all the money.
The girls all came from Yichun in Jiangxi province, and most of them were lured to Xining with false promises of waitressing jobs, Jiangxi Daily reported. If they refused to cooperate with their captors or were unruly with clients, the girls were often beaten with batons or even hammers as punishment.
The police obtained the diary kept by the eldest victim, aged 17, who detailed the terrible ordeals she had endured, including the number of clients she met with and the amount of money she had earned for the gang. She wrote that she was forced to serve 40 customers during a period of six months, while the 12-year-old girl had been forced to have sex 30 times.
Their plight was finally brought to the attention of authorities after the father of one of the girls filed a missing persons report. After he lost all contact with his daughter who had traveled to Xining for a job as a waitress, he approached police who set up a task force and launched an investigation. They received tip-offs and clues from residents who had noticed young girls with strange accents near the estate where they were being held.
Sadly this is not an isolated case involving under-age prostitution in China. Earlier this year a ring involving similarly aged girls was busted in Shanghai. Over the summer, a father in Shenzhen found out that his 13-year-old daughter had been lured into prostitution after he checked her WeChat account.
By Daniel Paul