Subject: Chinese Sex Work
From: John Davies (JDavies@tesco.net)
Date: Sat Nov 20 1999 - 03:54:24 EST
November 20 1999 WORLD NEWSFEATURES
Army of prostitutes flourishes in China
FROM OLIVER AUGUST IN TIANJIN
Seven types of prostitutes
IN CHINA'S new market economy, the oldest profession is also the most
flourishing. The 2.5 million soldiers of the People's Liberation Army, the
world's biggest military force, is matched by an almost equal number of
Recently-published official figures estimate that the number of er nai, as
some of the women are known, has risen more than 20-fold during the reform
process of the past two decades. In 1997, police arrested 250,000
prostitutes, only a small part of the industry that was originally banned by
the Communists when they came to power in 1949.
Nowhere is the decline of public morality more obvious than in Tianjin,
China's prostitution capital. The whole gamut of arrangements between men
desperate for sex and women desperate for money is on display. Limousines
ferry live-in mistresses to expensive restaurants past street prostitutes.
At luxury high-rises, where the mistresses live, rivals go from door to door
soliciting their services while their sugar daddies are entertained in
private rooms at karaoke bars. When business is good, street prostitutes
work in massage parlours.
At the Nice Face hair dressing salon, Linda was waiting for customers in her
short skirt and stockings. She took an English name when she came to Tianjin
from her home province of Sichuan,where she had never seen a foreigner. She
hopes to return home soon and to take several thousand dollars with her.
"I want to earn enough to set up a little shop in Sichuan and help my
family," Linda said. "Of course, they'll never know where the money came
from or what I did here. I can make more money in a day than my father gets
in a month." She played clumsily with a pair of scissors, seemingly ignorant
of her nominal profession of hairdressing. How do clients know what is on
offer here? Linda laughed. "Everybody knows," she said.
Most of the women in the parlours and bars have heard of Aids, but few are
worried. They are much more fearful of violent clients. Often the women come
from the countryside and feel uncomfortable with unusual sexual practices.
Male prostitution is said to exist but it is rarely seen.
Tianjin, as northern China's main port city, has long been a centre for
prostitution. During the Second World War, the Japanese occupation force
gathered so-called "comfort women" here. A quarter of the city was turned
into a pleasure area for soldiers returning from front lines in Asia.
Historians say that as many as 200,000 women were sent to brothels to
provide sex to the Japanese. Documents detailing the plans for the "comfort
facility" were discovered earlier this year and have rekindled bitterness
between China and Japan over the occupation - but this has not stopped the
tide of home-grown Chinese prostitution.
In the early days of the Communist revolution, China was admired for its
sexual equality. After the misery of the Japanese occupation, the Communists
made concubines illegal. Even the party's enemies agree that China has
achieved many of the goals set in 1949 - education, medical treatment and
public housing are vastly improved - but the battle against prostitution
seems to be forever lost.
Seven types of prostitutes
1. Er nai: long-term mistresses, housed in flats, receive monthly salary of
up to $10,000 (£6,250) per month
2. Short-term er nai: receive similar payments but rather than live with
their clients, they accompany them on business trips
3. "Three halls girls": work in dance halls, music clubs and restaurants for
up to $100 per night
4. "Doorbell girls": solicit on phone or doorstep, mostly targeting
foreigners and rich businessmen in hotels for up to $50 per night
5. "Massage girls": backroom services for up to $20 per hour
6. Street prostitutes: usually earn up to $20 per hour
7. "Tent of the laid-off worker": hired by migrant workers, these women
charge $2 per hour
Copyright 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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