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She watches as the man creeps into her room in the dead of night and edges towards her bed, his face twisted with an evil grin. Just as he lifts her duvet, Kang Qian screams, jolting her from her sleep. Teenage girls, also known as "backpack girls", make their way to school. The year-old has had the recurring nightmare ever since she was forced into a life of prostitution two years ago.
Kang Qian, not her real name, was one of at least 10 victims of a child sex scandal involving government officials exposed last year in Xishui county, in southwestern Guizhou province. Police discovered the girls, all primary and secondary school students, had been coerced by threats of violence into joining an underage prostitution ring run by Yuan Li, a year-old jobless woman, and two teenage accomplices, between October and July Yuan offered men sex with her "backpack girls" for money, while also using some as "hunters" to recruit their friends or classmates.
Police started an investigation on Aug 15 last year after the mother of one victim reported her daughter was pregnant after being raped. Li Shoumin, of the county migration office; Chen Mengran, a land and resources official; social security official Huang Yongliang, legal affairs official Chen Cun, real estate developer Mu Mingzhong, teacher Feng Zhiyang and taxi driver Feng Yong stood trial at Xishui County People's Court on April 8 accused of having sex with underage prostitutes.
However, no verdict was reached and, on April 22, the local public prosecutor suspended the case and ordered a fresh probe, with many expecting the charge to be upgraded to child rape, which carries a heavier punishment, in time for the next trial, the date of which is still to be announced. That's why I didn't tell anyone, including my parents.
The gang got all the money, we just didn't want to be killed. She added: "I really don't want to talk about my past any more. All I want is to get out of Xishui and go to another town where nobody knows me, to start afresh. Wang Qing, also not her real name, was 13 years old when a friend introduced her to the boss of the prostitution ring. She described to Chongqing Evening News how she had been forced to lose her virginity to one of the seven accused, Feng Zhiyang.