Australian 'sisters' arrested over child prostitution ring

SYDNEY - Two Australian women, reportedly sisters, were arrested Thursday and accused of running a child prostitution ring in Sydney that hired out girls as young as 12, some of them homeless.

Police raided four homes in the city and detained a 19-year-old woman and re-arrested a 22-year-old who had been charged over prostitution offences earlier this year.

In March she was accused of charging men between Aus$10 (S$12.4) and Aus$100 to engage in various sexual acts with two girls aged 12 and 13.

A court granted her bail despite hearing that she preyed on children living on the street and in refuges for the homeless.

Another five girls between the ages of 12 and 16 are now believed to be involved, said police, who allege the women, who they confirmed were related, ran the operation.

"At this stage we have seven young ladies, aged between 12 and 16, that have been the subject of what we allege to be a child prostitution racket," Superintendent Ray King told reporters.

"These are children that have been abused and manipulated. We don't know how they will be in 20 years. It's quite traumatic."

Police have been investigating the ring for three months and said charges were expected to be laid against the women soon. Three men in their 50s, suspected of being clients, were also arrested.

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