[Stop-traffic] NEWS/CHINA/HK: SEX-TRADE WOMEN KEPT LIKE SLAVES.`

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] NEWS/CHINA/HK: SEX-TRADE WOMEN KEPT LIKE SLAVES.`
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Jan 26 2001 - 09:19:36 EST


21/Jan/01 CHINA: SEX-TRADE WOMEN KEPT LIKE SLAVES.
By Glenn Schloss.
Many Filipino and Thai women brought to Hong Kong for work in hostess bars
are being imprisoned under guard in tiny flats during the daytime - only
being released at night to work, it has been revealed.
As many as 16 women are sometimes crowded into a 500-square-foot flat,
constantly under watch, and often two to a bed.
They are recruited in the Philippines and Thailand as entertainers to work
in the nightclubs of Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui, often without being told
they will have to work as escorts providing sex to customers outside the
bars.
Robyn Emerton, a researcher at the University of Hong Kong's law faculty,
uncovered the shocking conditions in which the women are kept in a
ground-breaking investigation into the trafficking of women for
prostitution.
Ms Emerton's report criticises police for the lack of prosecutions in
recent years and suggests they are not actively pursuing the traffickers
who bring in prostitutes. Police reported 80 cases and 20 arrests in 1994,
but only three cases in 1999 and none in 1998, her research showed.
"Given that organised crime syndicates, including triad societies, seem to
have such a high stake in the business, it seems highly unlikely that
trafficking activities have abated so dramatically in this period," her
report said.
"Rather, the figures strongly suggest that traffickers are not being
actively pursued. The current emphasis of the police seems to be on
pursuing and punishing women, rather than traffickers."
Police have reported a large increase in the number of mainland women
coming to Hong Kong since 1997 to work as prostitutes. Ms Emerton said they
worked on the streets, in brothels or villas.
According to some non-governmental organisation workers, who asked not to
be identified, organised crime seems to play a role in bringing mainland
women to Hong Kong.
In some cases, women were held in villas in "slavery-like situations",
according to Ms Emerton's report, not being allowed to leave unless
supervised. Some had their identity documents confiscated.
Filipinas and Thais working in nightclubs are housed in flats provided by
the agencies that recruit them in their home countries.
Their movements are often strictly controlled to prevent them from meeting
clients after work and earning money on the side, according to Ms Emerton's
report.
About half the women were estimated to be guarded at their flats and let
out only occasionally or not at all, while those who were not "minded" had
relatively free movement.
"The women who are not minded are nevertheless supposed to stay in the flat
and the agency might sometimes call to check up on their movements. Of the
women that are minded, some women have to sign out and give details of
where they are going, and provide proof on their return. Others have free
time, but this may be limited to a mere two hours a week, and then between
1pm and 3pm, when the women would usually be sleeping.
"Most women are allowed to visit the Social Hygiene Clinic, which offers
free check-ups every fortnight," the report says.
Questions sent to the police Public Relations Bureau on the subject last
week had not been answered by last night. Sunday Review - Page 1.
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST 21/01/2001
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