Sex with underage prostitutes might be considered rape in the third reading of amendments to China's criminal law next week, reports said Thursday.
The draft amendments will be tackled by China's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, when it meets from August 24 to 29.
The crime of soliciting underage prostitutes might be included in the draft amendment and will "probably be abolished" following repeated recommendations from some legal experts, The Beijing News citing an anonymous insider as saying.
The crime of soliciting prostitutes under the age of 14, which was written into China's criminal law in 1997, carries a sentence of from five to 15 years in jail. However, the law also states that having sex with girls under 14, whether forcibly or not, is considered rape, and can carry a sentence ranging from three years in jail to death.
In the past decade, a number of legal experts and legislators have said that if people, who sexually assaulted girls aged under 14, were charged with this offense, then these girls would be considered "prostitutes," which will damage their reputation.
In the previous two readings in October 2014 and June this year, the offense was not included in the draft amendment to the law, though many legislators have called for their offense to be reclassified as rape.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate said in May 2014 that 225 people were accused of having sex with prostitutes under 14 between 2010 and 2013.
The Supreme People's Court also urged legislators to abolish the offense in December 2013.