Ziteng statement regarding to the Legco Discussion over One-woman brothel law

After the meeting of the Security Panel of LEGCO in May, Ziteng had two meetings with the Crime Prevention Bureau of the Police. The police claimed that they would take measures to improve the situation and security of sex-workers. For example, to set up a hotline for the action team, to research on the attitude of the police towards sex-workers and then transfer the data into teaching materials, etc. Moreover, the police promised that when sex-worker files a case, she has the rights to refuse to provide information that is not relevant to the case like how much is the rent and who is the landlord, etc.

Police’s Refusal to Handle Sex-Worker’s Case

After much communication, we can see the improvement of the attitude of police officers towards sex-workers in some districts. For example, police officers in Yuen Long District show respect towards sex-workers and react positively to their cases such that criminals are put behind bars quickly, same as the police officers of the action team of Mongkok, Tsuen Wan and Sham Shui Po district, they react positively to sex-workers’ cases. However, they are still police officers neglecting the safety of sex-workers and refusing to handle their cases even though their senior officials have openly declared to reinforce their safety. Last month there was a sex-worker who had her head hit. The customer also strangled her and used curtain and a pillow to cover her face and suffocated her. She could not breathe and almost got murdered by suffocation. The police officer refused to handle her case. Some sex-workers have reported robbery and they were forced by the police to provide the names of their husbands, children and information about their schools and companies.

Harassment of Police Officers towards Sex-Workers

Although the police verbally said that they would protect sex workers, their actions have been more of harassing and forcing them out of business. Last month, there was police raid to kick out customers in the lobby of a building. The prostitute raiding team has abused the use of 《Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance》. In the name of child under age, they joined with personnel from other government departments, a total of more than 30 people to raid the premises of the one-apartment-one girl. They forcibly entered the unit and took video inside and also the personal details of the sex-workers. If the operation is for the protection of child under age, why is it necessary to involve other departments like the Water Supplies Department, Housing Department, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and Home Affairs Department? Do the police require the cooperation of these departments, which are not law-enforcing ones, to verify that a sex-worker is under age or not?

Police Oppress Sex-Worker by Abusing the Law

The police have over and over stated that the target of the attack is the criminal organizations that control women for prostitution and benefit from it, and sex-workers are not their target at all. However, the actions of the police have shown that they are abusing the regulations and forcing sex-workers out of business. There are cases showing that the police always set sex-workers up and made them commit an offence. For example, they will go up and ask for sex service provided by 2 girls or ask her to introduce her neighbors or girls from another room to provide sex service. If sex-workers are not alert enough, they may fall into the trap. They would be arrested and charged with “Keeping a Vice Establishment”. Now, there are many sex-workers put in jail because of this charge.

Revise Completely the Present Regulations and Terminate the Discrimination of Sex-workers by the General Public

The Security Bureau said that the benefit of the general public and the sex-workers are well balanced under the present regulations in one-apartment-one girl. However, there is still a lot of grey area in the regulations. These grey areas not only increase the confrontation between sex-workers and the residents but also severely threaten the personal security of sex-workers. Many experiences from foreign countries show that decriminalization is the best way to balance the benefit between sex-workers and the general public. That is why the government should not put aside the discussion on decriminalizing sex-work. On the contrary, the government should promote more harmony between the residents and sex-workers, and terminate all discrimination from the residents towards sex-workers. Before the revision of the related ordinances, the police should stop abusing the present ones, harassing, framing and oppressing sex-workers.

Ziteng sincerely hope that LEGCO can continue to follow up the topic in sex-worker’s security, assist in demanding the police in each district to effectively consolidate the measures in protecting sex-workers and to improve the present procedure in reporting a case and stop abusing their power and harassment towards sex-workers. Also, we hope LEGCO can continue the discussion on decriminalization of sex-work and terminate all the discrimination towards sex-workers from the society.

8th Jul, 2008