Karaoke bars, or KTVs, as they are commonly known in China, can be divided into two categories. On the one hand, there are the reputable establishments where friends, family and co-workers can go in their spare time to sing and enjoy themselves. On the other hand, there are the ‘shadier’ businesses that offer ‘extra’ services. The latter have become famous also outside of China for their ‘KTV’ girls. In extreme cases, these Karaoke bars are also places of human trafficking and exploitation.
Xiaoxiao lives in Handan’s Yongnian District. She dropped out of school because of poor marks and started helping out in a kindergarten owned by a relative. On the evening of April 10 she received a message on QQ from Xiaoli (fictitious name), a friend she hadn’t met for a long time. She asked Xiaoxiao if she wanted to go out and watch a movie with some friends.
Xiaoxiao met Xiaoli and her friends – two guys and a girl – near the kindergarten. At around 7 pm they drove to a KTV in Yongnian District. They took Xiaoxiao to a dorm on the 4th floor of the building. Suddenly they seized her mobile phone and kept her in the room, not allowing her to go back home.
About one hour later Xiaoli took Xiaoxiao to another dormitory, where there were eight young girls she had never met before. From their speech and clothes Xiaoxiao understood that they were prostitutes. As soon as she realized what was going on, and being unable to get her phone back, she tried to escape. But when she reached the lounge, a man holding a walkie-talkie knocked her over.
The other girls came downstairs and dragged her back to the 4th floor. Then her captors began torturing her. “Someone pulled my hair, someone stepped on my arms and legs,” Xiaoxiao told reporters. “They took turns to lap me, and kicked me in the chest and thighs and other parts with their high heels.”
Xiaoxiao was told that she had to “entertain customers”, but she refused. They warned her that if she didn’t do as they said they would continue to beat her and “blood [would] flow”. “Because I didn’t want to entertain customers, drink and sing with them, and I didn’t manage to run out of the building, the girls dragged me back, punched me and kicked me, I had bruises all over my body, my nose and face were full of blood,” Xiaoxiao said.
As a result, she had no choice but to comply and ‘entertain’ the KTV’s customers. It was only at 2 am of the following day that she found an opportunity to escape. The Public Security Bureau of Yongnian District detained several suspects and shut down the Karaoke bar.