By Saladin Xu | 2012-10-15 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
LOCAL police yesterday refuted widespread rumors suggesting that a five-year-old girl was forced to sell sex to foreigners after two expats grabbed the girl from a "human trafficker" at a bar in downtown Jing'an District and alerted police.
The girl, whom the two expats believed was being forced into prostitution, was actually selling flowers to them, police said in an announcement published online.
The "human trafficker" was actually her aunt, who was looking after the girl since her parents work outside Shanghai, police said in the announcement.
They blamed language problem for the "misunderstanding" at a bar near Jing'an Temple on Friday evening but refused to reveal the bar's name.
It was suggested that the two expats may have misheard the English word "six" for "sex" as some young girls selling flowers at downtown bars sometimes charge five or six yuan for a bunch of flowers.
The whole thing started after a netizen named "Tina and David" said on her Weibo microblog on Saturday that her husband, a foreigner, and his expat friend were shocked to meet a "human trafficker" at a downtown bar on Friday evening who was allegedly forcing a five-year-old girl to offer sex services to them.
The two expats rejected the offer, held the girl from the woman and alerted police, who simply asked them to release the girl, much to the duo's consternation, "Tina" said.
Her microblog post was forwarded hundreds of time overnight, triggering outrage among netizens.
But after the police published the online announcement, refuting the rumors yesterday, "Tina" couldn't be reached for comments.