A woman in western Manitoba accused of sexually and physically abusing her young stepdaughters, as well as confining and starving them, is free on bail while the children's father remains in police custody.

The man and woman appeared in provincial court in Dauphin, Man., on Tuesday afternoon, charged with numerous offences that include sexual assault, making child pornography, forcible confinement and failing to provide the necessities of life.

The woman was released on $2,000 bail.

RCMP say they received reports of child abuse on Aug. 7 in Manitoba's Parkland area.

Investigators found a total of three girls, all under the age of 10, living in appalling conditions.

"What we discovered was quite shocking," RCMP spokesperson Tara Seel told CBC News.

"We discovered often that the children were not fed, they were locked in their rooms for most of the day, and the two older girls were also forced to perform sexual acts."

The girls were also physically assaulted and one girl was even beaten with a belt, according to court documents, which said the abuse allegedly began in September 2011.

All three girls have been taken into care by Child and Family Services.

Seel said one biological parent and one non-biological parent were arrested.

RCMP did not release the names of the accused or say where in the Parkland region the abuse allegedly took place in order to protect the children's identities.

With files from the CBC's Jill Coubrough