Migrant Support Network
Statement on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers 2008

Today is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. In March 2008, there was a great concern from the society about the homicide of 4 one-apartment-one sex workers. It is not uncommon for sex workers to face violence. In fact they have been victims of violence for long, especially those who are migrant or mainland sex workers. Because of their status, they are not accepted by the society. Their lives and properties are constantly under the threat of crimes and live in fear always. Moreover, law executing officers only take the view that they do sex work illegally but disregard the fact that they are victims of crimes and give them proper protection and support. This made sex workers do not dare to report to the police when they face violence and this in turn encourage criminals further.

Present Situation
Last year, through outreach we did with other mainland women organizations in Hong Kong, Beijing and Guangzhou, and the joint survey we conducted in Qingdao (Jiaozhou), Wuhan and Beijing on the violence against sex workers, we visited sex workers on the streets, in salons, bars, night clubs and some underground complex. We aimed to understand the problems they met. We discovered that Chinese sex workers no matter whether they are in Hong Kong or in the mainland, they face problem of violence because of their illegal status. 48 sex workers were murdered in China last year. We have reached more than 1500 sex workers in our outreach and more than 1300 of them had faced violence and crimes. In China, over 80% of sex workers had once been verbally assaulted or violently treated. There was a sex worker who got robbed 5 times and in the end, in Nov 08, she was killed by a robber who used a brick to crush her skull. More than half of the migrant sex workers in HK was forced to provide free sex services and over 70% were robbed and blackmailed. Half of them revealed that they were violently treated by the customers. Some arrested sex workers had been nude searched several times and violently treated by the police in a police station.

Handling Problem of Violence
Whenever there is violence or crime, mainland and migrant sex workers do not dare to ask the police for help and choose to bear with it in silence. The main reason is that they are worried about themselves being arrested or punished when the police know they do sex work. Both mainland and migrant sex workers 1 do not have a legal status 2. Because of their illegal status, they are worried that they will be arrested when they report crimes to them and decide to bear with the violence in silence. In China, there was once a sex worker got illegally imprisoned. For 3 hours, SM games were being simulated on her and she was suffered from several injuries on her body. At the end, she escaped by jumping off from a building. However, she was fined 5000RMB for the charge of “Prostitution” when she was under treatment in a hospital. She was obviously a victim of criminal offence. However, because of her illegal status, she was treated like a criminal and received punishment instead. The way law executing officer handled the case made the victim suffer doubly. On the contrary, the criminal who deserves punishment was at large and no need to bear any consequence. Law executing officers are definitely acting as an accomplice in the offender’s crime.

We recognize that no matter the job is legal or not, every sex worker should enjoy basic human rights and not to be treated violently. Also, the responsibility of law executing officers is to protect the personal security and property of a civilian. We recognize that whenever sex worker faces crime and asks for assistance, law executing departments should handle the case with the sex worker as a victim of crime. They should provide support and make their best effort to put criminals in prison.

We demand the following:

  1. Respect the human rights of sex workers and end violence against them
  2. As a sex worker asks for assistance when facing a crime, her illegal status and role as a victim of crime should be separately handled. The police should provide support to the sex worker and arrest the criminal as soon as possible.

17th Dec 2008

Migrant Support Network
We are a migrant concern group formed in 2008 under the support of Zi Teng. We aim to provide support for migrant workers, especially migrant sex workers. We believe that migrant workers are entitled to respect and basic human rights, regardless of their job nature and legal status.