Stance of Zi Teng in Response to the Serial Murders and Sex Work Law/Policy

Starting from the first murder of a sex worker to our discovering of more victims, the focus has gradually changed from homicide of sex worker to how the government and the society can help sex workers to reduce their risks, and then further shift to the discussion of reformation of law and policy. Zi Teng did not participate in each discussion of the above. We were even absent from some of the discussions, but many journalists, groups and individuals did feel very enthusiastic to quote out of context. During the whole development of the incident, Zi Teng has only one focus, i.e., to console sex workers not to worry and continue to work without worries and risks. Our concern is the “rice-bowl” and the security of sex workers, which are the top priorities for us to consider during this period. We basically have no time for all those discussions above.

Following the arrest of the first suspect and according to the media that the police have important intelligence to search for another suspect, we would like to take the opportunity to clarify and state our big picture view on the discussions that went on for these few days.

“Two-women brothel”/”Multiple-women brothel”/Sex workers employ bodyguard?
A few days ago, Zi Teng appealed the general public to jointly sign the “JJJ Association” statement, in which sex workers request to ‘reform current law, so that we can work with another sex worker or a third party, better care each other.’ Zi Teng also urged in the statement dated March 17 the government to ‘reform current sex work law, so that sex workers can work or share the same flat with a third party.’ Some media interpreted the above statement as consent of Zi Teng in supporting the idea of “Two-women brothel”/”Multiple-women brothel”, or employing bodyguard. However, what we put forward is pinpointing to this particular incident. Due to legal restriction, sex worker can only work alone and resulted in getting murdered. If there is one more person in the premises and sex workers can watch each other’s back, this tragedy may not happen.

Zi Teng always believes that only sex workers can draft or advise the best law/policy regarding their occupation. That is why we consistently encourage sex worker to stand up for their rights and voice out their wants. We swear to ourselves that we will walk together with sex workers no matter when there is reporter interviewing them, march on the street or interview with the Legislative Councilors. If there is no participation of sex workers, we would rather turn down interviews, not to march on the street or even postpone the meeting with Legco members. All because sex workers are the leading role of all these and Zi Teng is only a supporting party. In order to motivate sex workers to fight for their own rights, we strive to establish strong connection with sex workers and let them know their positions and rights. It appears to us that what we have been doing is effective, or else we will not know sex workers are victimized, or sex workers themselves will not ask us for help when there is a problem, or we will not receive more than a hundred phone calls asking for help after the serial killings. Some sex workers even complain that the long-established 24 hours hotline is always busy and can hardly get in touch with us.

No matter it is “Two-women brothel/Multiple-women brothel”, or employing bodyguard, they are just a few proposals out of many to ensure the security of sex workers and the list can go on and on. We have never suggested that those proposals are the best and only option. Neither have we ever raised them to the public. If the society still has the prejudice and discrimination against sex workers and do not consider sex work as a kind of work, all these proposals are vain talking. They only arouse severe criticism and create nuisance to the sex workers.

Establishing close relationship with sex workers and putting their welfares as our top priority are the basic concept since the setup of Zi Teng. We have not done anything to hurt sex workers but fighting hard to stop this to happen. As long as the social discrimination towards sex workers has not been improved, we will not expose sex workers to the media without second thought. What we regret is that in this incident (same as similar incidents in the past), for gimmick and personal benefit, different medias come to sex workers’ workplace to film them and expose them in all kinds of media. They have offended the sex workers and made them live under fear, worrying that their identities may be exposed and in turn made their families bear unnecessary pressure and nuisance. We sincerely urge that everybody can well treat sex workers and not to take personal benefit by sacrificing or offending theirs. We also hope that everybody can work together to improve the living conditions of sex workers so that they will not be offended unnecessarily.

We appeal to all the medias, groups and individuals to sign and support this petition and promise to: stop all actions that will harm sex workers, especially all the tactics applied to expose the identity and violate the privacy of any sex worker.

Zi Teng
20th Mar 2008