Those who force minors and pregnant women into prostitution will face a punishment ranging from 10 years to life in prison, according to a new judicial interpretation jointly released by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
The judicial interpretation on handling prostitution specifies that forcing girls under 14 years of age into prostitution constitutes a severe criminal offense and convicts of such crime could face 10 years to life in prison, as well as a fine or confiscation of property.
The judicial interpretation will take effect on Tuesday.
Also classified in the interpretation as "severe criminal offenses" are: "organized prostitution that involves more than five minors, pregnant women, retarded people or people with serious sexual diseases" or "forced prostitution that involves more than three minors, pregnant women, retarded people or people with serious sexual diseases."
The interpretation released on Sunday also stipulates that those luring girls under 14 years of age into prostitution will face at least five years in prison and a fine.
It also said that posting prostitution information online will be treated as "illegal use of information network."
"Forced prostitution of minors is considered a serious criminal act because it is akin to rape in nature. But compared with rape, forced prostitution causes greater damage to children as it might happen for more than once," Ruan Qilin, professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Monday.
"Children under 14 are physically and psychologically vulnerable. Children who have been victims of such crimes will suffer from severe trauma," Song Yinghui, professor at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday.
Song added that other countries also stipulate heavy punishment for sexual crimes against minors, although the years of imprisonment may vary.
For example, in the U.S., if the victim is under the age of 14 or if force, fraud, or coercion is used, the penalty is not less than 15 years in prison up to life, according to a citizen's guide to the US federal law on the prostitution of children on the website of the Department of Justice of the U.S.