Decriminalization of Sex Work
The Chapter of Misconceptions
Sex trade between two consent parties is basically not illegal according to the Hong Kong law, but activities or behaviors related to sex work are categorized as criminal offences. This not only adversely affect sex workers’ livelihood and business, also exposes sex workers to different degrees of human rights violation.
To eliminate the violence and police abuse always experience by sex workers, and to let sex workers live freely, it is necessary to remove current incomplete, hypocritical criminal law. The decriminalization of sex work and the recognition of sex work as work will secure the rights and livelihood of sex workers working in different sectors of the industry.
About Sex Work:
1. What is sex work?
Sex work is a kind of work in which one earns money with her/his body. There are different sectors in the industry, such as guesthouse, ‘one-woman-apartment’, acupressure center, brothel, karaoke club, sauna, massage parlor, escort company, and streetwalker.
2. Is sex work illegal in Hong Kong?
Sex work itself (including the selling and buying of sex) is not illegal, but activities and behaviors related to sex work, such as, solicitation, advertising, living on the earnings of prostitutes, two persons sharing the same apartment for work, are forbidden by criminal law.
3. What is criminal law?
Criminal offences refer to some serious crime such as murder, robbery, and arson. Sex workers are also regulated by criminal law.
4. If sex work is not illegal, why are sex workers often arrested?
The police often excuse their arrest and harassment on sex workers by claiming that they are protecting women against the triad groups. What they do is indeed an abuse of power to suppress and eradicate sex workers.
5. What is wrong with current sex work-related law?
Since sex workers can only work alone in the apartment, they are more exposed to robbery and violence. As landlords, advertising websites and even family members may probably be prosecuted, sex workers are further isolated and pushed to the underground.
6. Are sex workers controlled by triad groups?
Sex workers are predominantly self-employed with hardly any linkage with the triads. Sex workers As long as sex workers can work independently, it is not possible to involve any third party.
7. Are sex workers immoral?
The so-called moral standard always changes. It used to be immoral for women to put on vests or to go to school in the past. Some people strive to maintain the moral standard, even to the extent of using moral standard to control others; but some people just do the opposite. What is important is to respect each other’s opinion.
8. Are sex workers money-grabbed?
Sex workers are simply a group of women earning their salt, who use their body and efforts to earn money like every one of us does. Every individual is granted the right of how to use her/his body.
9. Do sex workers destroy family and social order?
Sex workers do not sell love but sex. Sex workers also teach their clients how to respect their spouses/wives. In fact, anti-sex worker groups do always blame sex workers for destroying family and social order.
10. Are sex workers encouraging lustful behaviors and thinking?
It is an undeniable fact that sex workers exist in the society. Suppression only pushes sex work to the underground. We should eliminate our fears to ‘sex’ and cope with it.
11. Can we help sex workers by helping them to get rid of their dangerous, exploitative job?
Once sex workers are restored to their entitled rights, and sex work is recognized as work, they can then protect themselves against danger and exploitation.
12. I really cannot recognize sex work, what can I do?
Every individual has the right to choose her/his living style. We should respect every different idea. (I hate stinky tofu, but I will not discriminate anyone eating it. Neither will I demand the law-making body for a ban on it.)
13. How can the society support the decriminalization of sex work?
The greatest support to sex workers is to respect and consider them ordinary people. Also, you are more than welcome to pass this booklet to others. The more the people understand decriminalization of sex work, the faster it may be implemented in Hong Kong.
Sex workers are one member of the society. They should enjoy basic human rights and respect.
Please support the decriminalization of sex work, to let sex workers live more freely.
About Zi Teng:
Zi Teng is a sex workers concern organization. We believe that sex workers should enjoy the basic human rights. We have been pushing for the change in law. We demand for the revision on the discriminative, exploitative law and policy related to sex work. We also hope to remove the discrimination against sex workers from the general public, to harmonize the relationship of sex workers with the community.
Copyright 2007 Zi Teng
(To eliminate the prejudice against sex workers, you are welcome to share with others)