Mainland courts have been ordered to mete out harsher sentences to child abusers, with the Supreme People's Court publicising three cases yesterday as precedents.
They include the case of a teacher who was executed for his multiple rapes of seven primary- school girls.
The top court's order comes amid growing public anger about the widespread sexual abuse of children; at least seven such cases were reported in the past 20 days.
On the internet, mainlanders launched two campaigns online: they criticised the All China Women's Federation over its failure to protect girls, and warned principals and teachers with deviant tendencies to stay away from their students.
Xue Shulan, an associate supreme court judge, told China National Radio that teachers who sexually violated girls should be severely punished.
"All levels of people's courts should step up punishment over crimes against minors, handing out death penalties to criminals who severely harm the rights of the under-aged," Xue said. "There should be absolutely no mercy."
The 47-year-old teacher who was executed raped seven girls from 2009 to 2011. The court did not disclose where the offences took place. He also forced the girls to watch pornographic videos and photographed them while they were being abused.
The two other cases the court cited involved non-sexual offences against children: a stepmother was given a suspended death sentence for torturing her five-year-old stepdaughter to death; and a man was jailed for four years for instigating teenagers to steal.
On May 8, six primary-school girls were reportedly sexually attacked by a principal and a government official in Wanning , Hainan .
Hainan police were accused of downplaying the case for saying the suspects did not have sex with the girls, even though forensic tests found otherwise. The principal had been charged with rape, Xinhua reported yesterday.
Last week, the girls' parents appointed seven lawyers to sue the suspects, and they also pressed charges against the police for dereliction of duty.
But this week the parents decided against using the lawyers after they were stalked and warned about "making a big deal out of the incident", local media reported yesterday.
"We were told on Monday evening that our services were no longer needed," said Deng Shulin , a lawyer from Zhuhai. "They [the parents] said they were under heavy pressure.
"Some even told us they feared for their personal safety," Deng said.
Even so, a father involved in the case said he wanted to see the suspects executed.