BEIJING: Two teachers who sold out pupils as young as 11-years-old to men seeking virgins for sex have been sentenced to death for running a child prostitution ring, Chinese press reports said Wednesday.
The teachers, who were married, worked in southern Guizhou province and most of the 23 girls forced into sex slavery were students from the schools where they taught, the China Daily said.
Six of the girls were aged under 14, according to the Shanghai Daily, which said that the victims supposedly being "virgins" was a main selling point.
Other press reports said all the girls were aged from 11 to 17.
Zhao Qingmei, 28, a teacher at a primary school in Guizhou was the mastermind of the prostitution ring and was sentenced to death by a local court last week, the Shanghai Daily said.
Her husband, Chi Yao, 25, a teacher at a nearby middle school, was also given a death sentence but this was suspended, meaning he will most likely not be executed.
One of the first victims of the scam was Chi's niece, who was brought along with another girl in March last year to a rural area on the pretext of doing some farm work, the Shanghai Daily said.
Two men paid 4,900 yuan (650 dollars) to have sex with the girls, the court hearing was told, according to the paper.
By the time authorities discovered the abuse in June this year, 23 girls had been forced into prostitution, the paper said.
Another married couple who were also teachers at the schools were sentenced to 11 and 13 years in prison for their involvement in the prostitution ring.
More than a dozen other people were jailed for various periods, including the owners of hostels where the girls were taken to have sex with the men.