News / Asia

    China Launches Crackdown on Prostitution in 'Sin City'

    Police conduct a head count of suspects who were detained during a police raid, as part of plans to crackdown on prostitution, at a hotel in Dongguan, Guangdong province, Feb. 9, 2014.
    Police conduct a head count of suspects who were detained during a police raid, as part of plans to crackdown on prostitution, at a hotel in Dongguan, Guangdong province, Feb. 9, 2014.
    The southern Chinese city Dongguan came under the spotlight this week after state media ran an expose' about the city's sex trade. Since then, more than 150 people have been arrested and scores of popular entertainment venues have been shut.
     
    This week, Chinese state TV carried images of SWAT teams breaking into rooms using battering rams. Prostitutes and their clients, covering their faces from the cameras, were handcuffed and escorted outside.
     
    The raids began after state television aired an undercover report on Dongguan’s sex trade on Sunday. Soon after, authorities deployed thousands of police in a sweep that officials said will last for three months.
     
    So far, police said, they have made 162 arrests and raided almost 2,000 locations including saunas, karaoke bars and other entertainment venues.
     
    Dongguan is a business hub in southern China, but the city’s flourishing entertainment industry has helped give it a reputation as China's Amsterdam.
     
    Although provincial authorities pledge to fight back against the sex trade, sex rights activists in China have said police crackdowns are not the right approach.
     
    Lan Lan, the founder of Xin Ai Home, a Tianjin-based independent group that runs outreach programs for sex workers, is among those who think a crackdown is counterproductive.
     
    She said that by cracking down on the sex trade, the government is in fact pushing prostitution underground, and making it more difficult for NGOs - like hers - to protect sex workers.
     
    In China, prostitution is illegal.
     
    Sex workers and their clients are subject to administrative sanctions, including detention in so called custody and education centers for up to two years.
     
    Rights activists have long criticized such measures, which they claim do not help offenders re-enter into society.
     
    Lan Lan said that in most cases, sex workers do not learn any new skill while in confinement.
     
    On the contrary, she said, the detention will remain on their police record and make it more difficult for them to face their families or find different jobs once they are out. 
     
    According to Asia Catalyst, an independent group that promotes health and human rights in Asia, the educational goals of such centers have been “distorted into a profit making mechanism.”
     
    Detainees are forced to provide free labor and they are required to pay for their lodging as well, making the centers lucrative enterprises for local officials.
     
    Shen Tingting, with Asia Catalyst in Beijing, said the centers are similar in nature and sometimes even worse than the notorious re-education camps, which the government abolished last year.
     
    Authorities did not reveal what will happen to those caught during the crackdown in Dongguan, but online many people expressed sympathy for the city and its sex workers.
     
    Slogans like “Dongguan hang in there,” or “We are all from Dongguan” have become popular memes on Chinese social media.
     
    Shen said that such support for the city is a sign that people's attitude towards sex work is changing, and that although many are still quick to insult, there is more awareness about the need to protect the rights of sex workers.
     
    This week's sting operation was inspired by a investigative report on China's state broadcaster CCTV aired on Sunday.
     
    The news segment showed secretly shot footage of brothels in Dongguan, where scantly dressed women danced on a stage while a pimp asked the journalist to choose among them.
     
    As part of the program, the journalist reported the sex trade he witnessed to the local police, but to no avail.
     
    Following the broadcast, authorities suspended eight police chiefs and pledged to punish all those who provided protection to the illicit trade.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora