PROSTITUTION IN CHINA
Prostitute in Tibet Prostitution is illegal but practiced openly. Prostitutes work out of five-star hotels, karaokes, entertainment centers, dance halls, boxing clubs, beauty parlors, hairdressers, barbershops, saunas, bathhouses, massage parlors, nightclubs and on the streets. Prostitutes operate openly in almost every major hotel in China. In one survey, 10 percent of sexually-active men admitted having paid for sex with a prostitute. Single foreign men often receive phone calls from prostitutes in their hotel rooms.
Brothels are often disguised as hair salons or operate out of working hair salons. They are common sights in cities and towns of all sizes and operate for the most part without any interference. Describing the commercial sex scene in a typical Chinese town , Lily Kuo wrote in the Los Angeles Times, ‘Down the street are two barbershops with scantily-clad women waiting for customers and looking bored. In the same neighborhood, adult stores don’t bother with euphemisms to conceal what they sell. Their signs read simply, ‘Sex Shop’...This is not out of the ordinary in Beijing. Brothels and kinky toy shops are mixed into residential neighborhoods everywhere.’
The sex industry is growing rapidly. Even small cities have their own entertainment districts. Estimates of the numbers of prostitutes in China range from 3 million according to officials estimates by the government to 10 million by the U.S. State Department to 20 million by one Chinese economist. By one count there around 1 million full-time prostitutes in China and perhaps 8 to 10 million more that sometimes accept money and gifts for sex. One marker of the booming sex industry in Shenzhen—both in terms of prostitutes and misstresses—is the high number of children born out-of-wedlock.
Prostitutes work at all levels of society from the grandest hotels to the poorest neighborhoods and lowliest villages. Prostitutes with beepers and mobile phones openly solicit sex at truck stops on the main highways. Movie houses have girls who charge $12 for petting and more for after movie entertainment. The beaches on Hainan have "swimming escorts" and the economic free-zones near Hong Kong have "concubine villages."
Police say that many prostitutes are from Inner Mongolia. Prostitutes from northern China earn $25 a trick working out of the backroom of beauty parlors near the Burmese border in Yunnan. In Shenzhen you can dance three songs and “touch me anywhere you want” for $1.20 or have a female factory worker visit your hotel room for $25. In the Golden Star neighborhood of Kunming the girls walk the streets and patronize men that cruise by in taxis. The girls usually charge around $20.
Southern cities like Shenzhen and Dongguan have a reputation for being particularly seedy. Nick Frisch of Danwei.org wrote, “ Dongguan's reputation precedes it. Last year in a Shenzhen gym, my buddy’s albino muscle-bound fifty-something workout pal lumbered over. "Yo man, I was in Dongguan last week, it was fucking crazy, they bring out fucking fifty girls and you can fuck whichever ones you want. Fuck, man. Fuck." "I don't normally hang out with that guy," insisted the friend. "But Dongguan is definitely a den of evil. Once, one of my company's field offices there was besieged by Triads. Nothing but factories, gangsters, fat officials, and whores. Fucking Dongguan." He forgot hideous, speculative real-estate developments.
Describing an encounter with a prostitute in a Qingdao hotel, a writer in Lonely Plant wrote: "After more than two months of traveling in China, I was never approached by prostitutes—that is until I got to Qingdao. No sooner had I check into my room at the Beihai Hotel than there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find a miniskirted young woman offering her 'massage' services for sale. I turned down her offer, then headed out to see the sights of the city. Less than an hour later, I was approached by another prostitute."
Sex in China USA Today piece usatoday.com ; China Sex Museum hu-berlin.de/sexology ; Sex Incidents in China zonaeuropa.com ; Sex Industry guardian.co.uk ; Chinese sex toy maker lacyshaki.en ; Books: Sexual Life of Ancient China , written by Robert van Gulik in the 1920s; The Illustrated Handbook of Chinese Sex History by Professor Liu Dalin and Sex China Studies in Sexology in Chinese Culture by Fang-ju Juan’. The Sexology Research Institute of China is at People's University in Beijing.
Sex History and Literature Ancient Sex Culture China.org ; Chinese Sex Literature yellowbridge.com ; Sex in Ancient China Book Review dannyreviews.com Prostitution in China : China Law blog chinalawblog.com ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Shanghaiist blog shanghaiist.com ; Prostitution warning gochina.about.com Homosexuality in China Purple Dragon gay travel specialists Purple Dragon ; China Daily article chinadaily.com ; National Institute of Health paper /gateway.nlm.nih.gov ; Articles from the 1990s brooklyn.cuny.edu ; Some Sources on gay life in China fordham.edu/halsall ; Gay in Rural China sfgate.com ; Gay Scene in Shanghai shanghai-guy.com
Links in this Website: SEX IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; SEX AND HISTORY IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; PROSTITUTION IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; HOMOSEXUALS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; MAO'S PRIVATE LIFE Factsanddetails.com/China ; MARRIAGE, LOVE AND DATING IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; CONCUBINES AND DIVORCE IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China
Prostitutes in China
Prostitutes are called "xiaohie," or “miss.” In Beijing there are sometimes called chicken girls." In parts of southern China they are known as "cows." Popular brothels often shuffle in new girls every week to attract repeat business. Many prostitutes are migrants from rural areas to the cities. Many willingly chose to work as prostitutes for $50 per trick rather than work for $50 a month in a factory.
A survey of 3,376 Chinese conducted by the magazine Insight China in 2009 found that prostitutes were considered more trustworthy than government officials. Overall prostitutes ranked third on the list of professions behind farmers and religious workers.
A study of the sex industry in rural China found “ a lot of young girls want to get rich so badly and want to make use of their beauty before it slips away. They consider working hard a waste of time and feel their looks are a waste if they don’t take advantage of them immediately.”
In industrial towns many of the prostitutes, hostess and dance hall girls are women who have been laid off from factory jobs. A 20-year-old women in Shenzhen who works out of a back-alley. two-room massage parlor and has sex with four or five men a day told the New York Times she took up prostitution after she lost her factory job and was unable to get a new job unless she paid a bribe she couldn’t afford because she lost her identity card. “I was really terrified at first, and I was really embarrassed and didn’t even know how to use a condom. I didn’t have any choice, though. Little by little you get used to it.”
One prostitute told Time, “I’m always a little scared. Sometimes men beat me up or they’ll refuse to pay after we have sex.” The goal that many prostitutes have is find a sugar daddy and get off the street and become a concubine.
Sometimes Chinese girls don’t like foreigners. One American man told Theroux that a Chinese pimp had told him, Americans "are too big in their penis. The girl is Chinese. She is very small. It will hurt her too much."
Rise in Prostitution in China
Prostitutes used to be found mostly in well known bars and karaokes in the major cities. Now they are found everywhere: on university campuses, in residential neighborhoods and even at Wal-art stores in almost every town in every province Customers are often secured through cell phone and Internet services.
These days there are so many prostitutes that an oversupply has forced prices down. Workers that earned $30 a trick in 2005, could only make $20 in 2006 and were earning only $13 a trick in 2007. There are some prostitutes that are so desperate they service scores of migrant workers for $1 a piece under bridges and overpasses.
One 22-year-old prostitute told the Washington Post, “Though the price has gone down, the number of customers is up. I used to receive two visitors before, and now I have to do three to four a day. My income is the same. I just have to work a little harder.”
The rise in prostitution is more a manifestation of a lack of well-paying jobs than a loss morality. Many prostitutes send a large portion of their income to their families and to their hometowns. One prostitute who worked in a textile factory and as a dishwater in a hotel before turning tricks told the Washington Post, “There was a karaoke parlor in the hotel.. .And all the girls didn’t have to work at all. Yet they made big money. I worked all day and made 400 yuan [$53] a month. it’s because of money that I became ‘bad,’ and joined the business.”
Women Willingly Seeking Work as Prostitutes in China
The Chinese writer Lijia Zhang wrote in The Guardian, “ For a novel I am writing on prostitution, I have interviewed many prostitutes... Many see their profession as a way to gather wealth quickly, feeling few moral qualms.” [Source: Lijia Zhang, The Guardian, October 22, 2011]
An increasing number of young women in Yunnan Province are willingly going to Thailand and Malaysia to work as prostitutes or are being ordered by their families to work in brothels in these countries because the money is good. Girls from the Dai minority are particularly sought after in Thailand because they are regarded as beautiful and their language is similar to Thai.
One 20-year-old woman in the Mekong River village of Langle told the New York Times, “If you can’t go to Thailand and you are a young woman here, what can you do? You plant and you harvest. But in Thailand and Malaysia I heard it was pretty easy to earn money so I went....All the girls would like to go, but some have to take care of their parents.”
The girls work in bars and most of the money they take in tricks goes to their pimp or brothel owner. The money they earn comes from “tips” by customers. Many make their way across the border hidden in the baggage compartment of buses and hope to get lucky and meet and marry an overseas Chinese or at least bring enough money back for a better life for themselves and their families.
Many are unable to save much even after a couple of years. Some do quite well and this is often reflected by the nice homes—with satellite television, air conditioning, generators and tile designs—owned by their parents. Some families with several daughters live in chateau-like homes with chandeliers, leather-covered sofas, golden Buddhist altars and fancy home entertainment centers. Dai boys often don’t like the set up because the girls who return from Malaysia and Thailand come back snobby and don’t want to have anything to do with them.
Prostitutes, Barber Shops and Karaokes in China
Sex worker in
a beauty salon Many brothels are fronted by saunas or karaoke bars and many massage parlors are located in barber shops or beauty salons. A reporter for the Washington Post walked by a beauty salon and was told by a tout, "Hey, foreigners. I've got the best you can imagine—virgins, experienced pros, cheap and they are ready for you. Come try one." Pimps outside barber shops boast that their girls are cheap, beautiful and da pao ("set off a bang"). The usual charge is around $25.
Prostitution and karaoke often go hand and hand. By one count there are over a thousand karaokes in the Guangzhou-Shenzen area that offer the sexual service of 300,000 women, most of them migrants from Sichuan. The Enjoy Business Club karaoke parlors in Shenzhen have singing rooms in the downstairs rooms and sex upstairs in private rooms.
Prostitutes work places that cater to all kinds of clients: businessmen, foreigners, professionals. The owner of one massage parlor told the Washington Post he makes about $2,000 a month and is supported by local officials who take a cut of his profits.
If love hotels or back rooms of a karaoke are not available there is always the local park. One man asked Theroux if he wanted a girl and then told him "I can get you a very dark and private corner in the park, so you can be alone with her." Theorux said he was told about one brothel run by public security police where "customers can feel safe that they won't be raided."
Freelance prostitutes, who work out of beauty parlors, often meet different clients at different places, taking calls from different salon managers on their cell phones. Pimps sometimes solicit foreign customers in the sock department of Wal-Mart in Shenzhen, at first asking for $150 a night for girls displayed on their cell phones and then dropping the price to $80 a night.
Hostess Bars and Three-Accompany Girls in China
In China, there are many hostess bars, places where young ladies entertain, chat up, flatter and pander to male customers by lighting their cigarettes and pouring their drinks. The women generally don't have sex with the male customers. Hostesses are generally prohibited by their employees from dating their customers after they get off work.
Women who work at nightclubs, hostess bars and karaokes are often called "san pei xiaojie" (literally "three accompaniment girls," meaning drinking, singing and dancing). They “accompany” men as they drink, dance and sing karaoke. Although many limit themselves to serving drinks, singing and dancing others will do more if the price is right.
Describing the Golden Age Mistress Bar in Shanghai George Wehrfritz wrote: "hostesses in white satin dresses sit and drink with the clientele, toasts radiate with mildly risqué pre-revolution showgirl revues...a dance troupe wearing bustiers and exotic shrubbery wiggled to a pair of disco songs extolling the virtues of oral sex."
According to survey there are 100,000 san pei girls in the city of Shenyang alone. Even if only a small number of them are actually prostitutes, they add up to a large number. San pei girls are often victims of robberies and AIDS.
Hooters in China
Hooters had a branch in Beijing and two other locations in China as of 2010. As is true with branches in the United States, the girls there dress in orange track shorts, pantyhose and shrunken white tank tops. Sometimes they yelp and dance in a line. A sign hanging over the bathroom reads: ‘Caution. Blondes Thinking.’ [Source: Lily Kuo, Los Angeles Times, May 2010]
James Farrer, a professor at Tokyo’s Sophia University who studies sex in China, told the Los Angeles Times, ‘In terms of sex, China has these really competing views, socially and personally. What Hooters does is give a new model...It’s a almost family-style restaurant. It’s clean. It’s very far removed from the salacious commercial sex that is rampant in China.’
Many of the Hooters customers are expats. Among the Chinese that go there are couples and even groups of women. Many of the girls that work there are university students. They earn between $500 and $900 a month, a decent wage for a young college graduate in China.
Lives of Hostesses and Sex Workers in China
Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China by Tiantian Zheng is a study of the bar girl scene in the northeast coastal town of Dalian. In his review of the book in the Asian Times, David Wilson wrote: ‘Zheng did her best to fit in more and learn, embedding herself in a karaoke bar in her birthplace, Dalian... Over the course of her two-year research stint, Zheng faced many of the dangers the hostesses did and went on an emotional rollercoaster, discovering much about the whole Dalian bar girl scene...If only the author, who has a PhD from Yale, had concentrated more on telling the story instead of freighting it with cerebral baggage. Some of the prose in Red Lights is so turgid that it borders on unreadable.’ [Source: David Wilson, Asia Times, May 9 2009, David Wilson is an Anglo-Australian recovering print journalist with a special interest in Asia. His work has previously appeared everywhere from the Malaysia Star to the Times Literary Supplement and International Herald Tribune]
“Despite the pretension, Zheng deserves huge credit for truly riding a tiger. Her intimate research could be deeply disturbing. Often, she had to witness shocking scenes, not least of which was vomiting hostesses unable to cope with the amount of alcohol they were obliged to drink to keep pace with the procession of clients. Zheng shows what a truly unglamorous job hostessing is.” [Ibid]
Hostessing is also far more risky than the fixed smiles might suggest. During one police raid, like her quasi-colleagues, Zheng had to run and cower under a bed to escape detection. During a gangster raid, she had her arm grabbed by one felon who started dragging her upstairs toward a private room where women were sometimes raped. The doorman and the manager stopped the thug in his tracks by telling him that Zheng was their friend. ‘This saved me from imminent danger, but the fear remained,’ she writes. “ [Ibid]
The degree of degradation that the hostesses undergo may be even worse than the darkest scenarios imputed by a reasonably informed observer. The hostesses cannot trust each other or their appointed guardians. Imagine having to work in the shadow of Bing the bouncer. So unlike his benign famous namesake, the Academy Award-winning American popular singer, Bing works at a filthy ‘low-tier’ karaoke bar called Romantic Dream. During Zheng's bizarre fieldwork, she witnessed countless bloody fights between the Romantic Dream hard man and gangsters, clients and passersby. ‘I saw Bing and bar waiters throw heavy stones and chairs at clients and some passersby until blood streamed down their faces,’ Zheng recounts. “ [Ibid]
For killing and severely injuring many men, Bing was once sentenced to death but saved by the bar owner who paid a mint for him to be freed from prison. Without Bing, the bar would be bedlam, forcing the hostesses to run for their lives. On the one hand, Bing is their knight in shining armor. On the other, he is an ogre, happy to maul and rape them when the mood takes him. “ [Ibid]
But if the men exposed in Red Lights appear monstrous, the hostesses appear little better. Although impressively talented at acting and so stylish that they set trends, they seem charmless - ice queens fixated on status and money. In the coterie of the hostesses, according to Zheng, conversation centers on how to extract the most and expend the least. Talking about emotional involvement without compensation is a taboo enforced by ostracizing. “ [Ibid]
With very few exceptions, the hostesses seem severely in need of tender loving care - or just a trickle of warmth. True, the money they make is the envy of many a toiling male peasant. Still, the income hardly seems to compensate for the abuse best summed up by poor hostess Min. Raped by a client, Min relates one of the most telling stories in this distressing book that offers scant hope - very few hostesses break out, move on and make it. “ [Ibid]
After the rape, Min recounts, she became pregnant and considered herself to be his. She believed him when he promised her that he would marry her. Wildly in love, she yearned for the wedding. ‘Until one day the rosy bubbles built up in my dream were crumbled and collapsed. That day, I was carrying a dish from the kitchen upstairs to attend to the guests. The moment I stepped on the upper level, I caught mylover sitting at a table with a woman on his lap flirting and laughing. I could not believe my eyes: is this the man who says to me every day that he loves me and he cannot wait to marry me? I felt the whole world turning in a whirl in front of me. I did not know when I dropped the plates and fainted onto the floor. That accident killed the baby in my belly and, with it, my romantic dreams.” [Ibid]
Book: Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China by Tiantian Zheng (University of Minnesota Press, 2009)
Prostitutes Blamed for Property Bulge in Beijing
In Beijing, there are reportedly so many xiaojie (mistresses) that state media claim their numbers have driven up housing prices. An editorial in the Beijing Evening News, argued that a (downward) turning point in Beijing's property market could be achieved if prostitutes were driven out of the city. [Source: Wu Zhong, China Editor, Asia Times, May 26, 2010]
The editorial, entitled ‘Turning point will come when all mistresses are driven out of Beijing’, estimated that there were 200,000 xiaojie or ‘mistresses’ in Beijing — xiaojie is a face-saving term for prostitutes as the trade is illegal. The article argues that if Beijing police kept up their ‘strike hard’ crackdown [launched in April 2010], these mistresses could be forced out of the capital within three months. As a result, an extra 200,000 rental flats would be added to the property market. With the sharp increase in supply, ‘a genuine turning point’ would be seen in housing prices. “ [Ibid]
The article's first confusing premise is that the ‘more than 200,000 mistresses’ working in Beijing could be cleared out of the city within three months. (The assumption that each xiaojie rents a flat is already problematic, since most likely share flats to reduce living costs.) “ [Ibid]
Since the start of ‘Operation 4.11', Beijing police have smashed about 400 small prostitution rings, usually working out of hair salons, with some 1,100 suspects detained, according to local media. The operation has been hailed as a ‘great success’, with even high-class night clubs raided, such as ‘Tianshang Renjian.’ or Paradise on Earth, which is rumored to be owned by a Hong Kong tycoon and senior Chinese officials...However, if after a month such a high-profile crackdown has only been able to net some 1,000 working girls, then it would take 20 years to clear Beijing of 200,000 mistresses. “ [Ibid]
Most prostitutes in Beijing come from poor rural areas and use their income to support families at home, they are unlikely to be involved in the sector that has seen the greatest price hikes - luxury housing. While the average price of an apartment in Beijing within the city's Third Ring highway is around 30,000 yuan per square meter, luxury downtown apartments sell at 70,000 yuan per square meter. The average per capita monthly income is only 2,000 yuan. It is difficult to see how removing prostitutes from Beijing would affect the property market. Moreover, if the owners of flats who rented to ‘mistresses’ wanted to sell their property for profit, they could do so at any time. Why would they wait for the police to scare away their tenants? “ [Ibid]
Penalties for Prostitution in China
The penalties for engaging in prostitution are generally pretty light, with those getting caught generally getting a few months in jail and fines at worst. Instead of closing down known brothels officers with the Public Security Bureau prefer to crndone off the neighborhood where prostitutes live and issue fines for people with no residence permits. Most can get off by paying a bribe to a policeman or official.
In Shenyang in Liaoning province and Puian in Fujian province prostitution is not only tolerated but even encouraged by officials who tax the san pei girls at a rate of between 100 yuan and 300 yuan a month. One pimp told the New York Times, "The police here are all my friends." He then he explained that he is former policemen himself.
Occasionally the penalties can be quite harsh. In Foshan, a town outside Shenzhen, a man was sentenced to death and his sister was given life in prison for running a prostitution ring, which had only been in operation for three months and had netted only $1,000. It is widely believed the brother and sister received such severe penalties because they were migrants and they presented a threat to local businesses. In Beijing, a madam who was charged with pimping "more than a dozen" prostitutes out of a hotel, bath house and restaurant she partly owned was sentenced to death. She appears to have been unluckily picked out to make an example of.
Prostitutes parade of shame in Shenzhen
Crackdowns on Prostitution in China
In January 2006, authorities launched a crackdown on massage parlors and discos in Shenzhen as part of a clean up campaign. More than 3,000 people took the streets to protest the action and thousands of armed police were deployed to maintain order.
In November 2006, police publically paraded about 100 women and their alleged johns during a crackdown on prostitution at karaoke bars, saunas and barbershops in the district of Futian in Shenzhen. The offenders, dressed in identical yellow smocks and black pants, were sentenced to 15 days in jail and were forced to walk down the streets as television camera rolled and loud speakers read out their names, their addresses and the misdeeds they had been accused. Newspaper photographers snapped their pictures and thousands of residents looked on.
The action appeared to have been aimed at publically humiliating the offenders and use them as an example. Many Chinese were outraged the police would violate the privacy of the offenders in this way and were particularly incensed because the tactics were like those used in the Cultural Revolution. Internet chatter generally sympathized with accused prostitutes and sharply attacked what the police had done. One person quoted in the New York Times wrote: “Even people who commit crimes deserve dignity. Must we go back to the era of the Cultural Revolution.”
One Shanghai lawyer told the Washington Post, “These people were just alleged criminals. It was not yet determined that they had violated the law. The police publically humiliated them, which violates the legal process. This brutal form of punishments has long been abandoned by our society with the development of civilization and a legal system.”
in 2009, the Chinese government carried out a three-month crackdown on prostitution before the regime’s 60th anniversary celebration with a focus on groups that lure women into prostitution and operate entertainment venues that allow prostitution and anyone who conducts illegal sex-related activities with minors.
Sex Tourism in China
Sex tourism is a big business in China. Almost every five-star hotel has a group of women hanging around that offer a variety of services for male travelers. Many hotels, including state-owned ones, employ the prostitutes themselves.
A Japanese restaurant in Kunming, Yunnan Province used to serves sushi and sashimi on the bodies of scantily clothed women Young attractive grills were hired for the job. They reportedly showed up for 30 minutes and had their body chilled in an ice room before lying on a table to have food served on them.
In September 2003, Japan got a lot of bad press when reports emerged of 380 Japanese businessmen with a construction company running around with 400 Chinese prostitutes in hotel in Zhuhai, China. One of the prostitutes told the Washington Post she was with three of four Japanese men. “They had a big party. On my floor, at least, they had girls in every room.”
The Japanese businessmen arranged for prostitutes through the hotel’s Japanese marketing department, paying $145 for each woman according to the Beijing Youth Daily. The incident drew more publicity than it otherwise might of because it occurred on the anniversary of the beginning of the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in 1931. The hotel was closed temporarily. Several hotel workers were arrested and forced to take “emergency study sessions.” The Japanese government conducted an investigation.
Foreigners caught hiring prostitutes are usually fined and released.
Chinese Prostitutes Outside China
Large numbers of Chinese women work as prostitutes in Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan and other places in Asia. Many of these women arrive with tourist visas and are brought in with assistance of organized crime gangs.
By some estimates 10,000 mainland Chinese girls and women are brought to Southeast Asia every year to work in the sex industry. In some cases the sex traffickers recruit girls and young women from ethnic minorities in Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces, near the borders of Vietnam, Burma and Laos and smuggle them through the jungles to work at brothels in Southeast Asia.
Some are promised jobs in factories or restaurants and then forced in the sex trade. Some are outright kidnaped. But many go willingly, attracted by an opportunity to make some money and get out of their villages.
One 17-year-old member of the Akha tribe told AP, the traffickers “inspected us like clothes at the marketplace. They asked up us questions like how old we were, were we virgins.” She worked for six years for a pimp in Malaysia before managing to escape.
Many of the prostitutes who work in Hong Kong are women from the mainland. In some cases they earn more in a day of working the streets in Hong Kong than they can working at legitimate jobs in China for a year. Chinese characters outside blue hotels in Hong Kong advertise "new girls from the north" and "one room, one phoenix" ( a prostitute without a pimp).
Many of the mainland prostitutes in Hong Kong are recruited by gangsters and brought in with Chinese tour groups. Often they only have three weeks until their visa expires, and work under local pimps. Many cruise the streets in working class neighborhoods of Kowloon. Sometimes there are so many of them scuffles break out over customers. The competition has lowered the price from about $65 to $35 per trick and made paid sex more accessible to working class Hong Kong residents and even teenage boys.
Many of the girls are migrants recruited in southern China. In some cases they are cheated out of their money by pimps and gangsters. If they complain the gangster calls the police.
AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in China
See Health, Government and Public Services
Underage Prostitution Ring in China
There is a demand for paying to take a young girl's virginity. The price has risen since 2005, when prostitutes dressed as schoolgirls became fashionable in China's sex trade. The growing demand has led to related underground sex markets and the coercion of girls into prostitution. [Source: Stephanie Wang, Asia Times, May 23, 2009]
In April 2009 the China Youth Daily reported that 11 girls under 18 years old (three of them as young as 13), had been lured or coerced into a prostitution ring in Xishui county in southwestern province of Guizhou. More shocking findings were that the perpetrators included, besides some businessmen, an official at the local Judicial Department, a representative of the local People's Congress and a high school teacher. The girls met the clients in one of the residential buildings of the Judicial Department. [Ibid]
The local public prosecutor announced that the accused would be charged with ‘visiting underage prostitutes’ instead of raping underage girls. The local prosecutor's office explained that the perpetrators could be more severely punished with the charge of ‘visiting underage prostitutes’ rather than ‘rape’ as the former involves a minimum penalty of five years imprisonment while rape carries just three years in jail. [Ibid]
Penalties for Having Sex with Underage Girl in China
According to China's Criminal Code, rape is punishable by death, while those caught ‘visiting underage prostitutes’ can be sentenced to 15 years at most in prison, or 20 years for repeat offenders. But according to a loopholes of the controversial ‘visiting underage prostitutes’ clause included in the 1997 revision of the Criminal Code: “Offenders visiting prostitutes under 14 years old shall be sentenced to five years in prison at minimum and shall also be fined.” [Source: Stephanie Wang, Asia Times, May 23, 2009]
The clause also states for someone to be convicted of “visiting an underage prostitute” proof have to be provided that the suspect knew beforehand the girl he was to sleep with was under 14. If this cannot be proved, the suspect has a good chance of being acquitted. In a court case in Shanghai in 1998, two men were acquitted of the crime because the 14-year-old prostitute they visited was quite tall and appeared sexually mature. A similar case in Yibin county, Sichuan province, went the same way. [Ibid]
On December 20, 2008, Lu Yumin, head of Baihua branch of the local taxation bureau, bought the virginity of a girl student for 6,000 yuan (US$878). Three months later, accompanied by her aunt, the victim reported it to the police. After investigation, the police said Lu had not committed a crime as he was ignorant of the fact that the victim was under 14. The penalty for Lu's ‘inappropriate behavior’ was 15 days detention as an ‘administrative punishment’, and a 5,000 yuan fine. [Ibid]
Huang Jianxiong, associate professor with Xiamen University's School of Law, said that considering China's ethics and customs, the ‘visiting underage prostitutes’ clause should be abolished and a man visiting a prostitute under 14 should be charged with rape. Kong Weizhao, deputy director of the Committee on the Protection of Minors affiliated to China's Bar Association, said the same. He said that children under 14 turn to prostitution out of deception, the lure of easy money, or simply by coercion, and that the payment for sex does not obscure the fact that it is rape in nature. [Ibid]
Image Sources: 1) AFP; 2) New York magazine; 3) NPR Rob Gifford; 4) Parade of shame, AP
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated February 2011