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The BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Beijing
"Police are determined to succeed"
 real 28k

Friday, 28 April, 2000, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
China arrests prostitution gang
Chinese woman
Some rural women have been easy prey for gangs
Police in China have arrested 79 gang members suspected of abducting women from rural areas and forcing them into prostitution.

Hundreds of young women and girls are said to have been lured with promises of jobs in Chinese cities. Some of the victims were as young as 12-years-old.

The arrests follow a nationwide campaign by police to crack down on human trafficking, which has been linked to China's growing sex trade.

The case came to light when the government-affiliated China Women's Federation received a letter written on behalf of a 13-year-old girl.

It told of how she had left her village with 12 other teenagers when two women promised them jobs in the southern city of Guangzhou.

Hairdresser brothels

The girls were forced to work as prostitutes, often in hairdressing salons which doubled as brothels, receiving a minimum of three clients a day.


Chinese family
A shortage of females in rural China means brides are often bought
State media said police later arrested two women gang members, one just 17 years old, and uncovered a gang believed to have forced at least 105 women into prostitution.

Chinese police say the recent execution of four people for trafficking in women and children shows they are determined to succeed where past campaigns have failed.

Seven thousand women were reported missing last year, mostly from rural areas where many people see nothing wrong with buying kidnapped women.

Women have also been sold as brides in rural areas, where China's one child policy has contributed to a shortage of females.

Prejudice

Challenging social attitudes will be another barrier for police to overcome if their campaign is to succeed.

According to state media, women who have been forced to work as prostitutes often face prejudice if they return to their home villages.

The situation has caused one academic to appeal to the Chinese press not to reveal the identities of rescued women, as he warned this was making it harder for them to find husbands.

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See also:

16 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese police seize kidnap gang
07 Jan 99 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese men face life as bachelors
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