Eight girls, many of them under the age of 14, were beaten up and forced to become prostitutes in a city in northeast China where four men have now been charged with having sex with them.
The girls had been abducted in Yingkou in Liaoning Province and held captive to provide sexual services, it was reported. When they resisted, according to Law and News magazine, they were violently assaulted and fed drugs to make them comply.
Local government officials and businessmen were among five suspects arrested. They believed that having sex with teenagers would bring them good luck, the report said.
Two girls, who the magazine named as Yang Yun, 13, and Li Xue, 14, had been persuaded by a senior student, Wang Yue, to meet 22-year-old Lin Li, who organized the prostitution ring, in September 2011.
Yang said: "She told me she would spread rumors in my school and my house would be pulled down if I didn't listen to her."
The two girls were ordered to beat each other and fed with drugs under the supervision of Lin and Wang. They were also forced to wear high-heel shoes and dress in such a way that they could pass as 17-year-olds, the report said.
Li told the magazine that she had begged on her knees to a middle-aged man to let her go when she had been locked in a hotel room. But he ignored her pleas, she said, saying it was useless to resist. "I've paid for it," he told her. Afterward, Wang reportedly gave Li 500 yuan (US$78.45).
The following day, Li resisted Lin and Wang's demands, but was then beaten up for nearly 90 minutes, leaving bruises all over her body.
The two girls were freed 18 days later after relatives called the police. Yang shivered and cried: "I was sold" when she was reunited with her mother, the magazine said.
Lin was prosecuted for forcing underage girls into prostitution but the court has not yet announced a verdict. Four men have been charged with having sex with underage girls, a crime that carries a more lenient sentence than a charge of rape.
Online, there were many comments about the charge being a special one for people in power so that they could escape the harsh penalty. And there was concern the victims would suffer discrimination because it might be thought they had sex willingly.