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Anger over officer who paid for child sex

(Shanghai Daily)

08:50, April 01, 2013

The deputy head of a police station in northwest China has been sacked for paying dozens of girls under the age of 14 for sex, the Lanzhou Police Bureau said.

A post claiming the officer in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, had paid for sex with minors sparked fury across China's Internet community over the weekend.

The post said the policeman, surnamed Hu, had procured dozens of girls, the youngest just 12, through a woman pimp.

Hu is said to have paid about 5,000 yuan (US$804) for each girl and was caught, the post said, after one of girls' mothers found out what was going on and called police.

The post caused a storm of protest and on Saturday evening the Lanzhou police announced that Hu had been removed from his post and expelled from the Party.

The case against him was proceeding, police said.

However, this didn't quell the online rage, with many comments condemning the fact that he is accused of paying for sex with minors rather than of rape.

Netizens said this was a loophole which helped officials and others escape severe punishment and did nothing to deter such crimes in the future.

Under Chinese law the maximum sentence for procuring a prostitute who is a minor is 15 years. The rape of a minor, on the other hand, can result in a death sentence.

It is often the case that perpetrators are tried for soliciting a prostitute who is a minor, rather than for rape.

Government officials involved in sexually assaulting girls under the age of 14 were charged with "child prostitution" in Xishui, Guizhou Province, in 2009.

The case triggered a huge debate as the public and legal experts believed the punishment for that crime was far too lenient.

Eventually, eight people, including four government officials and a teacher, were convicted of child rape and jailed for terms ranging from seven years to life.

Commenting on the Lanzhou case, netizen Bao Zhengzhong wrote online: "Hu should be charged with the crime of rape and given heavy penalty, otherwise there will be more and more violators in the police team."

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