World

China plans to boost penalties for sex with girls under 14 by considering it rape in all cases

Chinese state media say China is planning harsher penalties for men who have sex with girls under 14, following public outrage over high-profile offenders including teachers.

Under the new law, all such cases would be considered rape because another criminal charge that served as a loophole for some offenders would be eliminated.

The state-run China News Service said Monday the crime of "prostitution with underage girls" would be removed from China's penal code under the revision being considered by lawmakers. If the bill is approved, any sex with girls under 14 would be considered rape and subject to harsher penalties, including death.

The current penalty for prostitution with underage girls is five to 15 years in jail.

Members of the public and legal scholars have long called for the change.