Zi Teng statement regarding to how the police accusation and threats to flat owners eradicate sex workers

Raid on Sex workers
In June, July, October and November, 2007, the police repeatedly went to sex workers’ workplaces for a police survey and forced sex workers to provide the information. Some police even entered their workplaces and took photos of the flat. The police claimed that they were only aiming at the criminals and triad groups who live on the earnings of sex workers. However, the police are actually using the obtained information to eradicate sex workers. Recently, the police have begun to post a notice in some buildings to warn the tenants, flat occupants and flat owners of the police accusation.

As long as the British Government signed at that time the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, the authorities have stated in many occasions that the current prostitution law and sex workers-related law (like living on the earnings of the prostitution of others) is aimed to protect sex workers from exploitation. Nonetheless, the police misuse this law to eradicate sex workers.

One-woman-apartment is not against the law in Hong Kong. Most sex workers are also working on their own with no one forcing them to the industry. Flat owners, Estate agents and the advertising websites are merely their business partners. Yet, the police threats to flat owners and sex workers only stop sex workers from doing the business, discourage them from earning a living, bring hurt to the sex workers.

Police visit sex workers’ place and force them to sign on the questionnaire
This year in June, July, October and November, the police carried out an extensive survey on one-apartment-women. They asked the women for information like, sex workers’ telephone number, heir ay of doing business, the information of their flat owner and advertising website. Some police even asked the women for their personal address and other information. However, according to the complaints we collected from 482 sex workers, the police did force and threaten sex workers for the information and signing on the questionnaire. Although the police have replied us in an official letter that sex workers do not necessarily need to provide the information, when sex workers say ‘no’ to the survey, the police officers turn to use threats and lies, such as staying at sex workers’ workplace, license-check everyday, threatening to charge sex workers with ‘Obstruction of police officer’, destroying sex workers’ workplace, to make sex workers provide the information.

Sex workers earning their own living
We carried out a signature campaign in June, in which we collected more than 3000 signatures from sex workers and the public to urge the police to stop their actions against sex workers. Yet, the police continued their actions. Currently, most sex workers are single parent, new immigrants or women whose husbands are unemployed. They just want to earn their own living, depend the least on the social welfare system. They also contribute to the society. We hope that the police can stop the above actions, well use the resources to solve the cases where there are true victims, say, robbery, sexual crimes, domestic violence and so on. They should not use the resources to suppress some self-supporting women. At the same time, the police and the government should repeal the criminal law related to sex workers, particularly the one of ‘Letting premises for use as a vice establishment’. This will enable sex workers to earn their living.

We have the following demands:

  1. Stop the suppressive actions against sex workers.
  2. Stop forcing sex workers to provide information and sign on the questionnaire, as well as taking photos of sex workers’ place.
  3. The police stop misusing the law, wasting the manpower and resources to eradicate sex workers. The government should spend the resources for the development and well-being of the society, but not the suppression of the self-supporting minority group.
  4. Repeal the law targeting at the flat owners, i.e. letting premises for use as a vice establishment.
  5. Decriminalize sex work, repeal the law related to sex work so that sex workers can live freely in the society.

Examples of police threats and lies on sex workers:
“We come here for your safety, see if you have been robbed recently.”
“We come here to take the pictures of your workplace. Just want to check if your workplace is within the fire ordinance. We want to keep you safe.”
“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?”
“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: Zi Teng (sex workers concern organization) Lam Yee Ling, Elene ziteng@hkstar.com/23327182

A letter to the Hong Kong Police Force from a sex worker

I work in the one-woman-apartment. The police always tell us that they target at the triad groups to protect us from exploitation and the control of triads. Yet, I am never exploited or controlled. I just rent a flat to do a business. The flat owner is my business partner. If the flat owners do not rent us the rooms, we can hardly earn our living. Why are the police so eager to eradicate the flat owners and us?

The police officers cheated us. This year in June, July, October and November, the police asked us to provide some information and let them take photos of our workplace. We were afraid that the police would take revenge on us if we did not cooperate with them (some officers told the girls that they would visit the girl everyday for the refusal of signing the questionnaire). In addition, the police cheated us. They used many excuses to cheat us, say, they told us their actions are to protect us from robbery; they were only coming to check the flat’s fire safety.

How can we do the business if the police keep on taking the above actions? If we cannot earn our living, do the police really want to push us to the CSSA system? We really don’t want to live on the government welfare. We also contribute to the society. I sincerely hope that the police can stop doing the above, stop suing and eradicating the flat owners and us. The government can repeal all the unreasonable law against sex work. We just want to use our effort to earn a living.

1 Chapter 200: Crimes Ordinance (Section 137: Living on earnings of prostitution of others)/Section 139: Keeping a vice establishment/Section 144: Tenant etc. permitting premises or vessel to be kept as a vice establishment/Section 143: Letting premises for use as a vice establishment.