Editor’s note: It’s true: despite the glittery appearance of a modern China with tall skyscrapers made of glass and designed with an aesthetic that seems beyond the normal resident, there is a dark and seedy underside to the capital of Beijing. This vile villainy can be seen in the prostitutes that dare to offer their wares on the streets of the capital.
However, there is another side to these women, who have impacted the appearance of the city. In this translated article, the reporter attempts to discover who these women are; they are mothers and sisters and, like the often heard slogan heard these days, have dreams of their own they want to fulfill. However, despite his noble intentions the tone of this article remains less than courteous to the women it is trying to understand.
Source: Blemished Paradise
At present, the regular appearance of Beijing’s “streetwalkers” and their selling of sexual services has had an effect on the appearance of the capital as well as on the lives of nearby neighborhoods. The main concern is that many of these streetwalkers don’t feel any shame in society from selling sex; on the contrary, they feel that these services can be construed as a benefit to society, and that it can serve as a “shortcut” towards buying a car or a house.
Residents near the Yansha Bridge on the East Third Ring beside Shiguan District feel the impact most strongly. Each day after dark, there convenes a group of women wearing heavy make-up and colorful stockings. They stand next to the road and lightly wave their hands and whistle at men passing by. Seeing that someone has stopped, they will eagerly compete to “promote” themselves; afterwards, they and the john will move to another location where they will engage in the transaction of selling sex. Among them, there is no lack of men dressing up as women.
At present, these streetwalkers plying their sexual services have become part of the scenery of Beijing and have made an impact upon the appearance of the capital as well as lives of residents living nearby. I recently wrote this report for Jinghua Report.
Report to police: Prosperous areas have a “monopoly” on clients
“This gang of women has been at this for a number of years now,” says Mr Li, a resident living nearby Yansha Bridge. Each night when he goes home at 23:00, he can see many of these women lining the street. “Each one of them is wearing heavy make-up and colorful stockings; many of them still wear silk stockings even during the winter months; many of them still wear high heels even when it snows.”
“Many of the johns that frequent these prostitutes will drive over and roll down their window. After exchanging a few words, the woman enters the car and they drive away,” said Mr Li. There are some times in which these johns don’t agree upon the price and decide to abandon the transaction altogether. “The women get extremely upset and slam the door and put on a sad face as they mutter away to themselves.”
Mr Li said that the numbers of these “streetwalkers” isn’t fixed, but said there is usually around 20 during the summertime. During the winter there is consistently only two or three. The age of these streetwalkers is also not fixed; ranging from their twenties to their fifties.
“There are many foreigners in Shiguan District, and with this many women selling sex, this has a tremendous impact upon the appearance of the city,” said Mr Li.
Interview: A “wild war” among the trees
On the evening of November 18, I arrived in the vicinity near the Yansha Bridge. Under the streetlights at dusk, many women were seen to be looking around in the cold winter wind. Among them was one woman that appeared to be 20 years of age, tall and slim. Once I looked at her, she immediately walked on over.
“Wanna do it? 200 RMB with a condom. We’ll settle up after we do it.” She calls herself Rong Rong, “This place is safe, you won’t have to worry about getting caught by the cops.”
I was led by Rong Rong to a small grove of trees next to Liangma Henan. Suddenly, Rong Rong stands up on her toes.
“Do you all do it here? Even without a bed?” I asked in regards to the place were we would “do it.”
“Things have been pretty strict around here lately, so I’m not able to bring you back to my place. If we get caught, we can’t say for sure what will happen,” said Rong Rong. I looked down. Among the fallen leaves many used condoms were strewn. In order to leave the situation I told her “it’s too cold.”
I then went back to Yansha Bridge to speak with some of the others. Many of them told me, “You know, Rong Rong is actually a man.”
They disclosed that of the nearly 20 streetwalkers in the Shiguan District, four are actually men. These men are transsexuals, called “demon-people.” These transsexuals don’t have any inner psychological problems, nor have they undergone a sex change operation; they just go about having outdoor sex. These “demon-people” take on numerous clients under the trees, and so they tend to make a lot of money.
Renting a room to “do it”
While speaking with the group, a woman wearing a red down jacket crossed the road to come next to me.
“I can take you to a room. Come with me,” she said.
Under her direction, we take a taxi to Zaoying Nanli neighborhood located not too far away. She leads me into a rented room. The room is crude and bare; there is only a double bed, a table, a dresser and a television.
Upon entering the room, the woman turns on the television and requests I pay the money up front. After paying the money, the woman begins to undress. As the situation became more and more inappropriate, I decided to leave.
What leads these women to become morally degenerate?
1) For the family: I need to raise money for my child to go to school
When Wang Hong talks about her life; it’s very clear that she doesn’t care about many things. She is a single mother with a six year-old child at home. She used to farm back home in Shandong when she and another villager came here to solicit sex.
“I bring back a lot of money when I go back home. The house has been renovated, and a car has been bought too. Back when my child needed to attend elementary school, I didn’t have enough money; that’s when I followed suit and turned to prostitution.”
At most, she will have three to four customers a night, and she can usually make more than 10,000 RMB a month.
“After doing this for another couple of years and saving several tens of thousands of RMB, I will stop. I will go home and open a small shop,” said Wang Hong as she pinches her fingers. At the moment, there are so many family problems: who will look after the parents once they get old? Who will pay for the children to attend school? If she wasn’t poor, she wouldn’t have agreed to do this sort of thing?
2) In order to get rich; I want to have the lifestyle of a rich person
Yuan Yuan is one of the younger members of the group. “Living conditions are high for me; it won’t do if I don’t have any money,” said Yuan Yuan. Her previous schooling was adequate and she was not a mischievous child. When she was in her second year of high school, she got involved with an “older brother” and promptly fell in love.
“Turning bad is something that is very easy. That year, I had learned to do all those bad things like smoking and drinking.” Because of her relationship, she held off her academic career. At 17 years-old, Yuan Yuan started to drift north.
“Previously, all the work I had done was in the service industry; the pay was very little, and there wasn’t enough to spend.” Yuan Yuan said that at 21 years of age, an older woman introduced her to the industry. “Afterwards, I wanted to buy a sports car and live the life of a rich person. I can’t work in other fields; from what I surmise, only this kind of work is able to fulfill my need for money.”
3) In order to avoid family violence: Upon turning old and not having any money, one can only do this type of work
“There is an old-timer in my family; once he drinks, he starts to beat people. Having been slighted, I came here to Beijing. Once you turn old, no one wants you to work for them. One can only turn to this kind of work.” Liu said that she had great misgivings about prostitution at the beginning; having to elude the police everyday “just like how a mouse hides from a cat.”
As time wore on and she accumulated more experience, everything became routine. “I’ve done over fifty people by now; if I wasn’t dirty then, I am by now.”
Liu says that one has to remain more vigilant on the streets than when working in a store. The police would often come but because they aren’t able to arrest them, they can only “educate” and separate them. Once we see the police we scatter, but then we will return later on.
“I think that this is a legitimate career; for any type of work there is in the world, there is someone to do it.”
(All names are pseudonyms)
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Keywords: sex trade industry in China Prostitution in Beijing Prostitution in China
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this is an very old problem, happens everywhere regardless of country, culture or social ideas. i think is either something wrong with us or maybe some instincts mix with NEEDS/WANTS in life that have create this problem, remember without demand this wouldn't even exist at the first place. knowledge and awareness won't even minimize this problem (considering the growing population), but will certainly create a more safe,clean and legal environment for this activities.
Dec 27, 2013 09:47 Report Abuse
Reading the following excerpt of a script from this reporters story, I note it stays on track promoting racial hatred. Prostitution in China is commonplace and was here long before any international citizens visited or invested in China. There will still be prostitutes in China long after we tire of investing in or visiting this country. It seems very little journalistic skill is needed to work as a reporter in china, just a flair for provoking racial tensions. There are many foreigners in Shiguan District, and with this many women selling sex, this has a tremendous impact upon the appearance of the city,” said Mr Li.
Jan 03, 2014 23:02 Report Abuse
"The main concern is that many of these streetwalkers don’t feel any shame in society from selling sex" Yikes. What a concerning attitude. Never mind about violence, STDs, lack of sex education, organized crime, human trafficking, survival sex, lack of sex education, etc. We should all be focused on shaming prostitutes back to the farms, right?
Dec 10, 2013 22:09 Report Abuse
If none of this: "violence, STDs, lack of sex education, organized crime, human trafficking, survival sex, lack of sex education, etc" isn't enough to at the very least feel shame in your society...Then you must be pretty proud and confident in your profession. To make prostitution more profitable the money earned from prostitution gets invested in addressing the above concerns(percentage of profits goes towards public security/health clinics/PR relations etc.) and removing the stigma...therefore the society doesn't shame prostitution and the trade becomes more reliable and profitable. If there is no shame of prostitution in a society (which is a trade that essentially takes advantage of MEN. China's gender ratio facilitates that acumen perfectly)it is because the prostitutes and their pimps are preeminent.
Dec 11, 2013 08:43 Report Abuse
"Then you must be pretty proud and confident in your profession", or undereducated about sexual health, at the bottom of the pile of organized crime, or in a position to not make decent money in another way, but hopefully with some level of assistance from public security/health clinics, and probably 1) trying to find ways to justify to yourself and others that what you're doing is OK and/or necessary, and 2) hiding your shame as a result. I can't imagine prostitutes who don't hide their shame get much business. The only item on my list that would one could shame a prostitute with is STDs, all other items are committed by the organizes at the top of the pile. As for survival sex, anyone who shames a prostitute on those grounds must ride a horse with very long legs. And as for whether prostitutes do feel shame, watching them on the street and conducting 3 or 4 interviews isn't a sample size worth drawing any conclusions from. If prostitution was something that could be made to go away, shaming people might be understandable. But since it never will, why not find an alternative route to minimize the damage?
Dec 11, 2013 14:00 Report Abuse
These are not children. They are not as naive as you make them to be...In Beijing, most definitely, they are educated and aware and they don't care. They eschew education because it obstructs profitability, (even slows it). And one thing about China's system is that if it makes a profit or creates an advantage, "it works". It is an end justifies the means system. Prostitution can go away. You just have to be willing to be rough with people who have become powerful from it. If you are not willing to control those people, or you are too weak to do so, it will not go away as you say. But Prostitution is most definitely a social contrivance just as any job is. Not a thing of nature. Sex for survival is a thing of nature...These women would have no problem finding a mate on those terms in a society that has a gender scarcity that is not their favor. This is sex for status, that is all it is. That is what prostitution compels...If a man or woman has to hold a knife to a prostitute's throat because he/she needs to ensure the survival of the species or the species goes into extinction (and in China that species is the "family" line) THAT is sex for survival...I really don't care how brutal that sounds. Otherwise you are just manipulating the terms of natural selection into social terms where certain elements can thrive while others take up the slack of being not "virile" enough.
Dec 11, 2013 16:08 Report Abuse
Thanks for this discussion, it's interesting to hear an alternative view. I have to disagree that a prohibitionist approach to prostitution is viable or possible. Being very tough on prostitution can certainly shrink the industry, like it did during Mao's China. But, in that instant, it didn't go away, it just went very far underground. Perhaps if those campaigns had continued to the present day prostitution could be near wiped-out, but it's hard to imagine many people willing to have similar campaigns implemented today, or to live in a society with such a hardline approach (even if re-education facilities were replaced by regular prisons). Whether part of nature or not, prostitution won't go away just like almost any other job or industry with a demand won't go away. Can it go away? Probably with an extreme approach, and probably in a society that people interested in democracy wouldn't want to live in. Will it go away? Never. And if it's a question of living in a society that stops at nothing to crush prostitution or a society that tries to regulate it and improve health and safety, I would choose the latter. As I said in my original comment, the number one concern should be keeping people healthy and safe and controlling a dangerous industry, not making sure that prostitutes feel disgraced. Survival sex is a term I've never associated with survival-of-the-fittest. I use a lot of loaded phrases, is this one of them? Perhaps it is, and maybe a better term could be "sex for adequate survival." Perhaps status is a better (though also loaded) term, but I don't see much of a difference between striving for adequate survival vs adequate economic status. Whatever the term, the aim is to no longer be poor. As for Chinese prostitutes being naive, as long as there are poorly educated, migrant prostitutes working in Beijing and other parts of China, naivety is a big part of the industry. Perhaps Beijing prostitutes have become better educated in the past few years, but articles like this (http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking_news_detail.asp?id=10135) suggest otherwise. Even if these women understand the risks and truly just don't care, showing a lack of judgment and wisdom makes them just that: naive. Either naive or lacking viable alternatives.
Dec 11, 2013 23:38 Report Abuse
"sex for adequate survival"..This term is also dangerous because it allows that mothers can sell their children into sex slavery in order to not be "poor"...Then you have to address where the value of money stems from...Is it the moral quality of a people..or their ability to do anything that they please? Remember from small concessions and appeasements, big things develop.
Dec 12, 2013 07:18 Report Abuse
It allows for forced child prostitution if a decriminalization plan forgets its initial objective: to protect and educate, and to help stop sex slavery and human trafficking. The main goal of taking power away from those who control prostitutes is not allowing prostitution to survive underground and unmonitored. It would be a very radical and hated minority that believe (A) some lack alternatives to prostitution, and therefore (B) if you are poor you can make money off people more vulnerable than you.
Jan 24, 2014 13:40 Report Abuse