Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Earnest bid to end sex trade

By Xie Caifeng (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-20 07:44

Dongguan, an industrial hub in Guangdong province, has started a three-month long crackdown on prostitution. Dozens of entertainment centers, including some five-star hotels, have been closed, hundreds of sex workers and sex trade organizers arrested, and several local officials pulled up for dereliction of duty.

Prostitution has thrived in Dongguan because it is home to thousands of factories and attracts tens of thousands of migrant workers from across the country and many businesspeople from across the world. According to news reports, Dongguan has approximately "300,000 prostitutes", many of whom operate out of beauty and massage parlors, and escort services.

Prostitution is a serious crime in China. Sex workers could be detained for up to 15 days and fined up to 5,000 yuan, and sex trade organizers could face life in jail. But still the crackdown in Dongguan has taken many by surprise. Some netizens on Weibo, a twitter-like microblogging platform, have posted statements like "Hang in there, Dongguan" and "Don't cry, Dongguan", which sound similar to the encouragement offered to victims of the deadly Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. A few have even called for legalization of prostitution, while others want the government to focus on more important matters such as anti-corruption instead of wasting its time on eradicating prostitution.

Some people call Dongguan the "sex capital" or the "sin city", because the industrial hub in the Pearl River Delta region is infamous for its sex trade. A Hong Kong film, Due West: Our Sex Journey, even tells the story of some Hong Kong residents traveling to Dongguan and Shenzhen in search of "sex service".

But it looks like the government is determined this time to eradicate "prostitution" from Dongguan. And that's why people who ridicule the crackdown are doing a great disservice to society.

Some people say that the crackdown on prostitution has "put the weak group in danger" and sex trade should be legalized. Do they mean prostitution is the best way for poor women in the countryside to overcome poverty? Or, do they mean to say that prostitution is acceptable in times of accelerated urbanization and falling rate of poverty?

Aside from being vulgar, such people tend to ignore one undeniable truth, that is, by far the worst victims of the sex industry are the sex workers. They are not only forced to sell their body and dignity, but also exposed to deadly diseases, including AIDS, by their greedy bosses. Even if they are lucky enough to start a normal family life, their past will continue to haunt them and could destroy their happiness and life if it is revealed. The fact is, once a woman enters, or is forced to enter, prostitution, she is caught in a perpetual trap.

Most of today's sex workers were born in the 1980s or later and their families are better off than their predecessors. And most of the women who enter the sex trade today do so mainly to make quick money, revealing a general social anxiety. Although it is understandable that people want to catch up with their financially well-off peers in a society where the wealth gap between the rich and poor is widening, it is still wrong and dangerous to do so through immoral and illegal means.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Viewed Today's Top News
New type of urbanization is in the details