|The Sex Industry in Hong Kong|
|Written by Peter M|
|Thursday, 10 May 2007|
Page 1 of 2
A Thriving Sex Industry
Most locals and visitors to Hong Kong will be well aware of the red light districts of Wan Chai and Mongkok ; however, this is just the visible surface of the thriving local sex industry that operates on a multiplicity of levels.
Sex is bought and sold in a variety of places within the SAR , including: nightclubs; karaoke bars; saunas; foot massage parlours; hair salons; multiple occupancy brothels; and single women brothels. It is also sold on the streets and in certain parks.
Some sex workers operate independently renting apartments and advertising for themselves on the internet and in newspapers. Other sex workers have a network of people managing them; organising their transportation and accommodation, arranging the various facilities that they work in and finding them clients. Of course, the sex workers need to pay these facilitators a large fee.
The younger ‘more attractive’ sex workers tend to be located in the well known red light districts and work in the bars, nightclubs, karaoke lounges. The older ‘less attractive’ sex workers work in more local residential districts, often in one room rented accommodation, where the competition is less fierce.
Sex work –what is legal ?
The selling of sex between consenting adults is entirely legal in Hong Kong. However, most of activities surrounding it are not. For example, it is illegal to solicit for sex, loiter in a public place for the purpose of selling sex, to live off the earnings of a prostitute and to advertise sexual services.
All of which make it difficult for sex workers to carry out their business despite the sex acts themselves being legal.
Similarly, the law distinguishes between sex and massages. You can sell sex without having a licence but if you offer a massage then you are breaking the law, as for this service you require a licence.
What this means is that the sex workers can have sexual intercourse with a client, but may then be arrested if they rub the client's back or neck!
Where are the sex workers from?
The women who work in the sex industry in Hong from are from a disparate number of countries. They are most frequently from neighbouring Asian countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and China where the lure of earning money in Hong Kong makes it an attractive destination.
Other countries represented by sex workers include Columbia, Australia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, Vietnam and Mongolia, to name but a few.
The motivation for working in the sex industry varies. However, a report addressing this issue said that difficult financial circumstances are a commonly cited reason for becoming a sex worker.
Many sex workers have been married and have children that they need to support. Others have elderly or sick parents who desperately need financial support.
Some see sex work as a method to improve their financial situation, offering them the opportunity to earn considerably more income than through ‘regular’ employment
It is difficult to estimate the numbers of women in Hong Kong working in the sex trade. Since the handover and the easing of visa restrictions there has been an influx of mainland women coming to Hong Kong to earn money in return for offering sexual services.
One indication of the large number of women involved in sex work is that in 2003-4 over 10,000 women were arrested by the immigration department (excluding those arrested by the police) for engaging in sex work.
The clients and sex tourism
The majority of the clients are local Hong Kong men. It was estimated that in 1999 that one in seven local men had visited a sex worker within the previous six months.
Despite the ready availability of sex workers and the ever-increasing number of mainland women coming to Hong Kong to work in the sex industry, the territory has not become a major destination for sex tourists. This is because of the relatively high cost of visiting Hong Kong.
Other Asian cities such as Bangkok and Manila attract tourists in much greater numbers due to the combination of readily available cheap accommodation and the relatively low cost of purchasing sexual services from the sex workers.
According to a report by Robyn Emerton of Hong Kong University , the majority of the women who come to Hong Kong to work in the sex industry do so willingly and are not trafficked. Trafficking women for the purpose of sexual slavery is not as common in Hong Kong as in many other Asian countries although it does occur.
While the majority of migrant sex workers questioned in a report titled “ The Incarceration of Chinese Mainland Women Working in Hong Kong's Sex Industry ” admit to coming to Hong Kong willingly, a significant minority say they were tricked into coming here under false pretences of a legitimate job.
Once these women arrive they are coerced or blackmailed into offering sexual services to pay back money owed for their trip. Many feel they have little choice but to accept their fate
|Last Updated ( Friday, 11 May 2007 )|
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