Return to China for 10 years Sex workers feel ‘bad bad bad’ about handover
Raid on Sex Workers
Recently, the police have started extensive raid on one-apartment women’s websites, flat owners. They also visit sex workers’ workplace for the survey, in which they force sex workers to provide all kinds of information. Sex workers have great worries that such police actions may end their business. Although the police spokespersons often claim that their actions are directed at the triad groups, the fact is that currently sex workers are mostly self-employed. The recent police raids on websites, flat owners, real estate companies and other people related with the work of one-apartment women only hurt sex workers. One-apartment women themselves are not illegal in Hong Kong. The police also state in different occasions that the sex work-related laws in Hong Kong (such as living on earnings of prostitution of others) are set up to protect sex workers from exploitation. However, police raids on websites and flat owners only discourage sex workers’ business. Sex workers are the ones to be eradicated. They can no longer make their living. They become the poorest victim.
Sex workers simply work like other business with websites, flat owners and real estate companies. There is hardly any sex workers being controlled or exploited if all the parties involved are voluntarily taking part in the business. Nonetheless, the police raids above will only push sex work to underground, decrease sex workers’autonomy and rely more on others for a living. Some groups may make use of this opportunity to control the market, expose sex workers to more exploitation.
Sex workers earning their own living
Currently, most sex workers are single parent, new immigrants or women whose husbands are unemployed. They sincerely hope that they can earn their own living for their family without seeking for the social welfare. Besides, sex workers do contribute to the society as they can offer sexual service for the single men, the physical-disabled, and the sexually-dysfunction men. The point that they earn their own living, indeed, indirectly lessens the social welfare burden on the Hong Kong Government, and solves some of the unemployment problem. The Government can then leave its resources to those who really need help. Nevertheless, the above police raids greatly affect their business, creating economic hardship for them.
Police visit sex workers for survey, force them to sign on questionnaires
Since mid-June, police have started an extensive survey on one-apartment women. The questions in the survey include: sex workers’ mobile number, ways to run their business, information about their flat owners and the information about their advertising websites. Some police officers even ask them for their home address and other personal details. Till now, we have received 282 complaints from sex workers, saying that they are forced, threatened and lied by the police officers to answer the questionnaires. They are also forced by the police to sign on the questionnaires. In 2005, when the police replied to the enquiry made by Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing about similar police survey, they stated that the respondent would provide the information on a voluntary base. Nonetheless, when sex workers really refuse to provide any information and sign on the papers, police officers often lose their patience, and use different ways to force sex workers to answer the questionnaire and sign on the papers. For example, they will stay in the flat until the woman sign on the papers; they will go to sex workers’ place everyday; they will threaten to charge sex workers with resisting the police officer acting in the execution of duty; they will even break into the flat and destroy sex workers’ belongings. Most sex workers do involuntarily provide the information and sign on the papers after the police threats. Those who refuse to sign on the papers also have great worries on police revenge. The police actions denies sex workers’ human rights and privacy, seriously violate their rights. Neither can we believe in the Complain Against Police Office (CAPO) and lodge any complaint after we witness in our past cases how CAPO delays the investigation as well as stopping sex workers from filing complaint.
The Government often claims that they have to well use the resources. Yet, the misuses of law as well as the waste of police manpower and resources on raiding sex workers only increase the social burden. Sex workers are also more exposed to exploitation. The Government should spend its resources on the development and betterment of the community’s social life, but not discouraging the business of one marginalized but self-reliant group. Even though it is the 10th year after handover, but sex workers can hardly have any excited feeling for the anniversary. All they have is the worries over the business and living.
We now carry out a one-person-one-letter campaign to urge the police to respect sex workers. They have to stop police abuse immediately and all kinds of actions against the one-apartment women. Your support is highly appreciated.
We have the following demands:
- The police stop all actions against sex workers.
- The police stop forcing sex workers to provide any kind of information and sign on the papers.
- The police stop misusing the law, as well as wasting police manpower and resources on raiding sex workers. The Government should well use its resources on the development and betterment of the community’s social life, but not discouraging the business of one marginalized but self-reliant group.
- Decriminalize sex work, repeal all the laws related with sex work, so that sex workers can enjoy their life.
Examples of verbal threats:
“If you are not cooperative, you will break the law of resisting the execution of police duty!”
“If you don’t sign on the papers, then I will come to visit you everyday!”
“You refuse to answer? Do you know that I have the power to arrest you?”
“You didn’t advertise on website? We found you on the websites. You can’t deny!”
“Don’t ask too much when we are carrying out our duty! Just follow whatever I said”
“If you don’t afraid of us creating troubles to you, sure you can refuse to sign!”
Contact: Miss Lam Yee Ling email@example.com / 23327182
Zi Teng (Sex workers concern organization)