Posts Tagged ‘Prostitution’

Kiab makes her bed in the centre she now lives in.

Kiab makes her bed in the centre she now lives in.

 

When Kiab turned just 16, her brother promised to take her to a party in a tourist town in northern Vietnam. Instead, he sold her to a Chinese family as a bride.

The ethnic Hmong teenager spent nearly a month in China until she was able to escape her new husband, seek help from local police and return to Vietnam.

“My brother is no longer a human being in my eyes – he sold his own sister to China,” Kiab, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told AFP at a shelter for trafficking victims in the Vietnamese border town Lao Cai. The emotional impact on children and women thus betrayed must be almost as bad as the experiences they then suffer.

Vulnerable women in countries close to China – not only Vietnam but also North Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar – are being forced into marriages in the land of the one-child policy, experts say. As we noted in our recent article on prostitution in China, the most horrific fact is that Korean girls who are traded, kidnapped, and then escape and return home, can find themselves imprisoned or even executed.

China suffers from one of the worst gender imbalances in the world as families prefer male children. As a result millions of men now cannot find Chinese brides – a key driver of trafficking, according to rights groups.

 

women sitting

 

The Lao Cai shelter currently houses a dozen girls from various ethnic minority groups. All say they were tricked by relatives, friends or boyfriends and sold to Chinese men as brides.

“I had heard a lot about trafficking. But I couldn’t imagine it would happen to me,” Kiab said.

As trafficking is run by illegal gangs and the communities involved are poor and remote, official data is patchy and likely underestimates the scale of the problem, experts say.

But rights workers across Southeast Asia say they are witnessing “systematic” trafficking of women into China for forced marriages.

“This problem has largely been swept under the rug by the Chinese authorities,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Vietnamese girls are sold for up to $5,000 as brides or to brothels, said Michael Brosowski, founder and CEO of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, which has rescued 71 trafficked women from China since 2007.

“The girls are tricked by people posing as boyfriends, or offering jobs. Those people do this very deliberately, and for nothing other than greed and a lack of human empathy,” he added.

It is likely that many of the girls end up working in brothels, but due to the stigma of being a sex worker they will usually report they were forced into marriage.

Communist neighbours Vietnam and China share a mountainous, remote border stretching 1,350 kilometres, marked primarily by the Nam Thi river and rife with smuggling of goods of all kinds: fruit, live poultry and women.

“It is mostly women who live in isolated and mountainous areas who are being trafficked across the border, because there is no information for us,” said 18-year-old Lang, from the Tay ethnic minority, who walked across the frontier illegally and was sold to a Chinese family by a friend.

In northern Vietnam, trafficking has become so acute that communities say they are living in fear.

“I worry so much about it, as do all the mothers in the villages, but it has happened to a lot of girls already,” said Phan Pa May, a community elder from the Red Dao ethnic minority group.

“I have one daughter. She’s already married, but I’m worried about my granddaughter. We always ask where she is going, and tell her not to talk on the phone or trust anyone.”

Activists working to combat trafficking in Vietnam said police and authorities take the problem “very seriously”.

The shelter in Lao Cai opened in 2010 and has helped scores of female victims.

“There is nothing at home for these girls, not even enough food to eat,” said director Nguyen Tuong Long, referring to the dire poverty that is another key driver.

‘Painful experience’

May Na, from the Hmong ethnic minority, was 13 when her uncle took her across the border and forced her to marry a Chinese man.

“I could not accept it. They left me at home alone and I climbed over the wall and ran away. I was wandering for more than a day, lost, sleeping in the streets, crying,” she said.

Eventually, Na ended up at a police station, but because she spoke neither Chinese nor Vietnamese – only her native Hmong – it took police a month to figure out what had happened and return her to Vietnam.

Now 16, Na – the eldest of five children – is learning Vietnamese at the Lao Cai centre. Her uncle has been arrested, she said, but she has chosen not to return to her own family.

“I was so sad when I was in China. It was a painful experience for me,” she said.

 

Trafficking young women into prostitution is a worldwide problem, but especially so in Asia.

Trafficking young women into prostitution is a worldwide problem, but especially so in Asia.

 

The government says it has launched education programmes in rural areas, near the border, warning young girls not to trust outsiders.

Long, the centre director, says he believes the number of cases is falling.

In neighboring Cambodia, there have been some prosecutions, but An Sam Ath of rights group Licadho said the scourge is still happening, adding: “I am worried the problem will spread.”

Anti-trafficking groups in Vietnam say it is hard to warn girls of the risks when it is often a family member or friend carrying out the deception.

Instead, they say there should be harsher penalties for traffickers — including, for example, prosecutions at local level to raise awareness in villages of potential punishments to deter people from trying.

Child bride trafficking is also an internal problem inside China.

Main article copyright (2014) AFP. All rights reserved.

Chines prostitutes - young, pretty, slim, and available by the million. And all potential victims of an unregulated system.

Chines prostitutes – young, pretty, slim, and available by the million. And all potential victims of an unregulated and exploitative system.

As AFP report, authorities in Shanghai has suspended four judges over allegations that they patronised prostitutes, reports and officials said on Monday in the latest salacious Chinese scandal to result from online accusations.

An inquiry was opened after an anonymous blogger, identified by state media only as being surnamed “Ni”, posted footage online last week alleging that five officials hired prostitutes at a local resort in June.

The Shanghai Higher People’s Court said on Tencent Weibo, a Twitter-like social media service, that Chen Xueming, the chief judge of its No.1 Civil Tribunal, and three other officials had been suspended.

“The Shanghai Higher People’s Court is highly concerned about the incident and has launched an investigation into the case,” it said.

The court had previously said Zhao Minghua, deputy chief judge of the tribunal, was among those named on Ni’s blog.

In what might be the motivation for the story, Ni claimed Zhao intervened in a civil case in 2009 that caused him a huge financial loss, the state-run ‘Global Times’ newspaper reported on Monday. He spent a year following Zhao, it said, “and discovered that he frequently went to nightclubs, owned several properties and had extramarital affairs.”

Surveillance video posted by Ni purported to show five officials including Chen and Zhao entering a luxury room after a three-hour banquet at the resort, followed by several women who stood by the door.  Subtitles said that Chen allocated the prostitutes to each man. Video showed officials walking out two hours later, some of them arm-in-arm with women.

The identity of the fifth person in the footage remains unknown.

Shanghai’s city disciplinary commission, which is taking part in the investigation, said on its Tencent Weibo account that all four of the accused were judges.

“The involvement of four judges in the ‘nightclub entertainment incident’ deprived the law of its dignity, put judiciary to shame and caused damage to justice,” it said.

It was investigating “to preserve the image of the party and the government and safeguard the stable political, economic and social development of Shanghai,” it said, and would disclose the results of the case to the public.  The incident is the latest in a series of scandals over corruption and other disciplinary violations, including sexual impropriety, by Chinese officials to be revealed online by whistleblowers.

In our experience, this story highlights again the double standard in Chinese public life over sex and prostitution.

As anyone who has done business in China knows, an almost ritual part of “entertainment” for visiting dignitaries or businesspeople will, at some point, be the offer of sexual services to “round off” an evening’s socialising. Ask around: the stories are legend. See here for the Chinese police’s (and society’s) gradation of prostitution services into 7 main groups.

"Let's end the evening at karaoke" doesn't always mean what it sounds like ... Been there, done that, didn't buy the t-shirt: but many do.

“Let’s end the evening at karaoke” doesn’t always mean what it sounds like … Been there, done that, didn’t buy the t-shirt: but many do.

In many visiting Western businessperson’s experience, the process obeys certain laws of discretion. Troupes of young women “spontaneously’ appear when all the men concerned are suitably lubricated (I doubt troupes of young men appear to entertain women in certain circumstances, but I would not know) and the girls proceed to flatter and fawn on the men present. If the girls summoned to the party don’t happen to please those being entertained a wave of the hand ensures another batch miraculously appear.

Those who are unconcerned by matters such as morality, fidelity or STDs very soon discover, if they didn’t know already, that the girls concerned have few boundaries.

At a level below this, the story becomes even more concerning. As this story reveals, at the bottom of the ladder of Chinese prostitution, the situation for both girls and their clients is grim indeed.

There is genuine concern growing in China about the lives of poor women forced to work as prostitutes to survive. This China Daily photo blog/article makes harrowing viewing.

This phenomenon is by no means limited to China, of course.

It is common throughout Asia, and to some degree or other, worldwide. Not for nothing is prostitution called the oldest profession, and it is a profession that appears alive and licking. Er, kicking.

Similarly, in Asia in particular, it is not at all uncommon for men to live it up after work with young ladies whose ability to please does not end at pouring them a drink and smiling benignly. Certain Asian cultures have a very different attitude to prostitution to those in the West, accepting it for centuries as a social norm, and in China it is also not uncommon for a man to have one or more “kept women” as well as their “official” wife, concubines in all but name. Where their lifestyle is paid for by the man, often including clothes, food, and accommodation, it is hard to see this as anything other than a more sophisticated version of the same transaction that these judges have tripped up over.

China has always had a confused and multi-layered approach to prostitution, which was historically very common in both the Imperial and Republic eras, and which since the Moaist takeover in 1948 has been the target of first an eradication effort, and then the gradual loosening of controls. According to research quoted by Wikipedia, prostitution is now an increasingly large part of the Chinese economy, employing perhaps 10 million people, with an annual level of consumption of possibly 1 trillion RMB.

Following a 2000 police campaign, Chinese economist Yang Fan estimated that the Chinese GDP slumped by 1%, as a result of decreased spending by newly unemployed female prostitutes.

What really worries Chinese authorities is that prostitution is often directly linked to low-level government corruption. Many local officials believe that encouraging prostitution in recreational business operations will bring economic benefits by developing the tourism and hospitality industries and generating a significant source of tax revenue. On occasion, police themselves have been implicated in the running of high grade hotels where prostitution activities occur, or accepting bribes and demanding sexual favours to ignore the existence of prostitution activities. Government corruption is also involved in a more indirect form — the widespread abuse of public funds to finance consumption of sex services. Pan Suiming, a professor at the Institute for Sexological Research (People’s University of China, Beijing) contends that China has a specific type of prostitution that entails a bargain between those who use their power and authority in government to obtain sex and those who use sex to obtain privileges.

Apart from incidences of violence directly associated with prostitution, an increasing number of women who sell sex have been physically assaulted, and even murdered, in the course of attempts to steal their money and property. There have also been a growing number of criminal acts, especially incidences of theft and fraud directed at men who buy sex, as well as bribery of public servants. Offenders often capitalise on the unwillingness of participants in the prostitution transaction to report such activities. Organised crime rings are increasingly trafficking women into and out of China for the sex trade, sometimes forcibly and after multiple acts of rape. Mainland China also has a growing number of “heroin hookers”, whose drug addictions are often connected to international and domestic crime rackets.

Sexually transmitted diseases also made a resurgence around the same time as prostitution, and have been directly linked to prostitution. There are fears that prostitution may become the main route of HIV transmission as it has in developing countries such as Thailand and India. Some regions have introduced a policy of 100% condom use, inspired by a similar measure in Thailand. (This article also interestingly discusses the cultural norms applying to prostitution in Thailand.) Other interventions have been introduced recently at some sites, including STI services, peer education and voluntary counselling and testing for HIV.

Wellthisiswhatithink has heard, as well as the matter being confirmed by some research studies, that casual prostitution is also common in the higher education sector. Put simply, female students, who are fewer in number than men due to the effects of the one child policy and resulting widespread alleged infanticide of female fetuses or children, and therefore in demand, frequently supplement their living allowances through prostitution with fellow students. A translator helping us on one business trip to China remarked that although she had not employed these tactics herself, the event was very common indeed. To us, the matter of fact way this information was divulged seemed to go directly to prevailing social norms as much as an insight into anything else.

It is also very obvious (especially in the eastern part of the country, simply by walking down the street in some cities) that a significant number of Russian prostitutes have entered China and work there seemingly unhindered.

Other countries also fuel the trade: North Korean women are increasingly falling victim to sex exploitation in China attempting to escape poverty and harsh conditions in their homeland. About 10,000 women (The Washington Post’s Carol Douglas, however, claimed that the number was as high as 100,000) are reported to have escaped from North Korea to China; according to human rights groups, many of them are forced into sexual slavery. Most of the clients of North Korean women are Chinese citizens of Korean descent, largely elderly bachelors.

According to a Ji Sun Jeong of A Woman’s Voice International, “60 to 70% of North Korean defectors to China are women, and 70 to 80% of whom are victims of human trafficking.” Violent abuse starts in apartments near the border, from where the women are then moved to cities further away to work as sex slaves. When Chinese authorities arrest these North Korean sex slaves, they repatriate them. North Korean authorities keep such repatriates in penal labour colonies (and/or execute them), execute any Chinese-fathered babies of theirs “to protect North Korean pure blood” and force abortions on all pregnant repatriates not executed.

This is much more than an academic argument about public morals.

All of which encourages us to argue that the time is long overdue for China to face up to this situation and start to decriminalise and normalise prostitution. Where countries have done this (such as in Australia) some important strides have be achieved. Women endure a much lower rate of violence, for one, and better sexual health – a boon for their clients. Similarly, women retain a higher proportion of their earnings than when working in the unregulated arena.

There will always be informal or unregulated prostitution in every society. But bringing it under some sort of sensible and safe legal control is now clearly established as a good thing – for the workers, and those who purchase their services.

And for the first time, one of the biggest businesses in the world can even be taxed.

Despite ushering in an anti-prostution era, Mao was utterly inconsistent himself. "As Mao got older," Li wrote, "he became an adherent of Taoist sexual practices which gave him an excuse to pursue sex not only for pleasure but to extend his life. He claimed he needed the waters of yin—or vaginal secretions—to supplement his own declining yang—or male essence, the source of his strength, power and longevity. Many of the women that Mao slept with were daughters of poor peasants who Li said believed that sleeping with the chairman was the greatest experience of their life. Mao was happiest and most satisfied when he had several young women simultaneously sharing his bed, and he encouraged his sexual partners to introduce him to others. He often told the young women to read the Taoist sex manual The Plain Girl's Secret Way, in preparation for their trysts." [Source: "The Private Life of Chairman Mao" by Dr. Li Zhisui, excerpts reprinted U.S. News and World Report, October 10, 1994]

Despite ushering in an anti-prostitution era, Mao was utterly inconsistent himself. “As Mao got older,” Mao’s personal physician Dr Li wrote, “he became an adherent of Taoist sexual practices which gave him an excuse to pursue sex not only for pleasure but to extend his life. He claimed he needed the waters of yin—or vaginal secretions—to supplement his own declining yang—or male essence, the source of his strength, power and longevity. Many of the women that Mao slept with were daughters of poor peasants who Li said believed that sleeping with the chairman was the greatest experience of their life. Mao was happiest and most satisfied when he had several young women simultaneously sharing his bed, and he encouraged his sexual partners to introduce him to others. He often told the young women to read the Taoist sex manual The Plain Girl’s Secret Way, in preparation for their trysts.” [Source: “The Private Life of Chairman Mao” by Dr. Li Zhisui, excerpts reprinted U.S. News and World Report, October 10, 1994]

Tackling the matter will mean China has to confront it’s inherently (and traditionally) male-oriented society, to accept that Chinese society is not always internally harmonious and well organised (which it sometimes seems reluctant to do), and to deal fundamentally with a widespread issue rather than scratching at the surface of it.

Chucking the book at a few naughty judges, or even less impressively, busting the young women involved, is mere window dressing.

In our opinion, regulating prostitution in China would be a bold step towards the true emancipation of women in this fast-growing and significant society.

In a broad sense, if women choose to work as prostitutes that should be a choice, rather than a necessity, and it should be a safe choice, and one without social stigma.

And there is evidence that the Chinese authorities are well aware of the threat to women of un-regulated prostitution.

In 2011 a Chinese “madam” was executed by lethal injection for running a prostitution ring.

It’s estimated that she was responsible for over 300 women were forced into prostitution between the years of 1994 and 2009.

Seven of the women died from unknown causes that some suspect had to do with the prostitution.

Other women went clinically insane.

One example includes a forced prostitute who, in 2003, jumped from the eighth floor of a brothel (disguised as a tea house) and was paralyzed as a result.

Even after her paralysis, the woman was kept locked up until police found her.

But even executing ring leaders will not solve the problem. Prostitution is like the hydra. Cut off one head, and seven more appear.

Change must happen. Nothing in current policy settings implies that the Chinese government knows what to do about the level of prostitution in the country, and the social ills it trails in its wake.

No, necessary change will not happen overnight. Yes, it has to happen.

The sooner China gets started, the sooner the problem will be controlled, to the benefit of all.

But what do you think? Your comments are very welcome, and please take our poll.

 

This is not a "career choice".

This is not a “career choice”.

 

I find it astounding that the social support system in Australia, surely one of the wealthiest countries in the world, can spawn a report like this one from AAP.

The progress of  a society is measured by how it protects those who are weakest amongst its citizens, not by how it builds the wealth of its middle class or by protecting the obscene riches of the already uber-wealthy. This story proves categorically that there is no “trickle down”  effect from the rich to the poor, no matter how right wing economists choose to spin things.

I believe, as a social and moral principle, that people should have the right to work in the sex industry if they wish, suitably safe and protected from violence and disease, and free from fear of prosecution. However my attitude to it is the same as abortion; I want it to be safe, legal, and as rare as possible.

To see single mothers forced into this sort of work simply to make ends meet is an indictment of our Labor Government – it would be an indictment of any government – but to see this happening while we piss away endless millions of a bloated bureaucracy, inefficient “major projects”, and the pursuit of mythical paper “surpluses”, is a disgrace.

To see it under a government headed by a feminist woman? Doubly so. For shame, PM Gillard, for shame.

It’s all very well to spew out rhetoric about misogyny and anti-female attitudes in our Parliament – and I am no fan of Tony Abbott – but Wellthisiswhatithink would be much more impressed if you followed up your little Question Time tirades with real on-the-ground action to prevent this sort of social scandal from blighting our national image, and these family’s lives.

Single mums turn to brothels and stripping
By Lisa Martin, AAP

Some single mothers hit by recent welfare cuts to parenting payments have turned to prostitution and strip clubs in order to keep a roof over their family’s head.

The payment cuts came in at the start of 2013 and affect 84,000 single parents, mostly mothers who received parenting payments.

The majority have been shifted onto the Newstart unemployment allowance when their youngest child turns eight.

More than 60,000 single parents now receive between $60 to $100 a week less under entitlement changes.

While the federal budget will look $728 million better over four years and make the system more sustainable, welfare groups have been concerned families will fall into poverty.

A spokeswoman from a Brisbane brothel told AAP there had been “influx” in applications from single mothers looking for work since the welfare changes came through.

She said there had been about 20 applications.

“They’re looking for extra cash to help cope following the cuts and Christmas and back to school,” said the spokeswoman, who did not want to be identified.

Women working at this brothel could make up to $1000 during an eight hour shift, seeing three to five clients, she said.

A spokeswoman from an inner-city Melbourne brothel said she knew of some single mothers, affected by the cuts, applying for jobs in strip clubs.

“They find pole dancing is a bit more palatable,” she said.

“It’s an easier step compared to going all the way with sex work.”

A woman from a St Kilda brothel said she had also noticed a huge increase in single mothers seeking sex work.

“It’s sad. They’re doing it to pay their rent,” she said, but declined to give her name.

The offices of Families Minister Jenny Macklin, Human Services Minister Kim Carr, and Minister for Women Julie Collins all refused to comment, passing inquiries on to Employment Minister Bill Shorten.

Mr Shorten’s spokesman, however, said the minister was on leave and would not comment.

Single Parents Action Group spokeswoman Katrina Rae said she was not surprised women in her position were turning to sex work and stripping to pay the bills.

“I wouldn’t personally, but you would do anything to feed your family,” she said.

Ms Rae, a Sydney mother of four teenagers, said she had done her family budget on Sunday morning and was $287 behind for the next fortnight.

“I don’t have breakfast or lunch. If there’s not enough food for dinner I’ll have toast so the kids can eat,” she said.

She said as a victim of domestic violence she didn’t choose to be a single parent.

Ms Rae works a full-time job in insurance, commutes 22 hours a week for work, and only manages to stay $25 above the poverty line each week.

Adelaide single mother Samantha Seymour said a woman she knows had spoken to a male staffer at Centrelink about her desperate situation.

“She told him `What am I supposed to do? Turn to prostitution?’ and he replied `You have to do what you have to do,” Ms Seymour told AAP.

St Vincent de Paul chief executive officer John Falzon said the reports were sadly not surprising.

“This is clearly unravelling as a poor policy decision and a cruel and unnecessarily punitive decision,” he said.

“It’s a disgrace.”

Single mothers are planning rallies in all major cities on February 5th when parliament returns.

A spokeswoman for acting Employment Minister Kate Ellis told AAP anyone experiencing financial difficulties should contact Centrelink to discuss their personal circumstances.

Does anyone else think the ” scandal” of numerous members of President Obama’s Secret Service detail employing prostitutes while on an away trip to Colombia is really rather silly, and painfully revealing of the double standards in Western society?

After all, in many countries prostitution has now been de-criminalised at least, and often made entirely legal, regulated (so that hopefully, for example, its participants can be cared for by the health services, counselled, and protected from both sex slavery and violence), not to mention taxed, including parts of the US and many Western countries.

Why should using a prostitute’s services be more reprehensible than a quick hour or so in the hotel gym or a brisk walk round the lake?

Was their real crime that they deviated from single-mindedly worrying about the President’s up-coming arrival, (in which case do these people not get any down time during their working lives, with which they can presumably do whatever they like?, or was it really that they revealed what millions of men (and a smaller but significant number of women) know full well – that people on business trips, especially young, fit, hardy and horny people, often employ sex workers to fill in their time.

This runs everything from the notorious “Happy Ending” at the culmination of a massage in many Asian countries – allowing the participant to declare, presumably, “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss LotusBlossom Wu”, through to full-blown sexual escapades followed by a discrete cheerio at the hotel door before a rushed shower and breakfast with one’s colleagues, smiling innocently or sharing the gory details, depending on one’s personal disposition. (I have witnessed both.)

The faux-shock that has greeted this story becomes especially puerile when it is revealed that the scandal only broke when the very attractive young lady at the heart of the matter complained vociferously that she had been dudded by one of the security detail, who refused to pay her pre-agreed fee of some $800, promoting some organs of the American media (ahem) to publish swimsuited photos of her with the headline “C’mon! She’s worth $800”

April 20th, the "scandal" breaks, much to the relief of newspaper owners the world over, no doubt

Around the world, newspapers of all colours, and not just the tabloids, fell over themselves to publish photos. Presumably this reflects their certainty that sales will go up when polite, well-spoken people can secretly snigger at what a real prostitute looks like … “Ooh look, dear, she’s quite pretty, but honestly, what a minx! And she’s got a nine year old son. Lawks a mercy, what is the world coming to?” as they chow down on their Weetbix and gargle their instant coffee. It reminds me of when, back in a different era, a very good friend who worked for Gay Liberation used to get plenty of people along to his fund-raising discos by sticking up posters announcing “Come and see a real live Queer!”

Anyhow: how it is possible to maintain one’s view that the mens’ behaviour was reprehensible while simultaneously laughing behind one’s hand over the details of the stormy teacup is an especially perfect demonstration of the hypocrisy of much of the western middle class, and America especially. This is the society that tunes in its millions to Jersey Shore, remember, the entire content of which appears to be based on someone’s efforts to get shagged by someone else, let alone everyone acknowledging that it is also the society that produces the majority of the world’s pornography, an industry which now ranks as the largest in turnover in the whole country.

It’s easy to make sweeping statements about the sex trade. What we know is that some of its participants are enthusiastic about what they do, earning good money and enjoying the way they earn it. Some – perhaps most – end up in it because they are poor, marginalised, addicted or desperate.

Transvestite/transgender street prostitutes in Colombia, photo Niels Van Iperen

That virtually none of the coverage of this matter – except in Colombia itself – has focused on why so many people in that country are available for hire, or on the danger of people (mainly men) returning to their more normal sex lives carrying diseases picked up through casual sexual encounters, is, however, the true scandal in this story.

Sadly, Dear Reader, neither topic sells newspapers.