Joint Statement from Zi Teng and the JJJ Association

Real action is needed to ensure the safety of Sex Workers, not just police posturing

We are pleased to hear a suspect was arrested last night for the murder of the first three sex workers. Since it seems the accused was not directly involved in the fourth murder we urge the police to spare no effort in finding the perpetrator as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, we believe that if the police had, upon the discovery of the first victim, immediately worked together with the sex worker groups then the lives of the second, third, and fourth victims might have been saved.

When Zi Teng found out about the first murder we asked the police to be included in their investigation, hoping both parties could work together to ensure sex workers could continue to work in safety (and catch the murderer). Unfortunately, the police attitude towards this case was initially one of complacence. It is only now that four women have been murdered that the police have finally been forced into action. Police Commissioner Tang King Shing has just publicly announced the gravity of this case and how the police are working hand in hand with the sex worker organizations. This is simply not true. The police have not contacted either Zi Teng or JJJ Association and, when we asked Police Superintendent Ng to help arrange a meeting with the Police Commissioner, Police Superintendent Ng(?) dismissed our request, saying “the Police Commissioner doesn’t have time to meet with you.” Superintendent Wu later added, “The Police Commissioner won’t deal with this kind of case” It is clear that in public the police will say one thing but in practice do something else entirely. This performance, typified by their lax attitude that was prevalent at the start of the investigation, did little to save the second, third and fourth victims.

We are very worried about the possibility of copycat murder attempts that will further endanger the sex worker community.

Zi Teng and JJJ Association offer their condolences to the families of the murdered sex workers and hope the police can quickly catch the remaining murderer. We also hope that the public will now consider the problem of the well being of sex workers. We especially urge the government to remove the existing laws that disadvantage sex workers and increase the risk of violence in their work.

Currently, it is legal for one sex worker to work alone in her flat. But, if any third party receives money from a sex worker then they could be charged with ‘Living off the earnings of a prostitute.’ Sex workers are restricted from working together as if more than one are found to be working in the same apartment at one time then the landlord will be charged with “Permitting premises or vessel to be kept as a vice establishment.” These laws makes it impossible for sex workers to look after each other, and forces these women to face all the dangers of this work alone. The criminals that target sex workers know only too well of the vulnerable position these women are in and do not hesitate to exploit it.

Since sex workers have been all but excluded from normal society and suffer its discrimination this increases the precarious position they occupy. When a sex worker encounters violence they are truly alone. They cannot go to their neighbor for help and are often too afraid to go to the Police for assistance. This is because the police rarely take their cases seriously and there have been many cases of intimidation by officers verbally assaulting sex workers that do contact the Police.

According to current information there is still one murder at large. We strongly request the following:

  1. The police to change their current methods of law enforcement regarding sex workers, and to implement a comprehensive policy that protects the safety of sex workers.
  2. The relevant government departments contact and offer support to the victims’ families.
  3. The public to end its discrimination towards these women who are simply trying to support themselves and their families.
  4. The government should listen to the suggestions of sex workers and change the law in accordance with their opinions to enable sex workers to work in a safe environment.
  5. All sex workers in Hong Kong to join the ‘Sisters Network’ to build solidarity and help increase the safety of sex workers.

For further information, please contact Miss Lam at 2332-7182.

March 18, 2008