Asia Government

Chinese lawmakers abolish 1949 law that enforces labor for sex workers

Chinese lawmakers

Chinese lawmakers abolished an extra-judicial system of forced labor (custody and education) used as punishment for sex workers and their clients for up to two years, but it stressed that prostitution remains illegal.
It will be recalled that China banned prostitution after the Communist revolution in 1949, but it returned after the landmark economic reforms began in the late 1970s, despite regular crackdowns.
Many critics have also voiced their opinion that the nearly three-decade-old system has little to do with education. Detainees were reportedly forced to work, allegedly making toys and household goods.
Although Chinese state media claims the custody and education system has helped to maintain an excellent social atmosphere and public order since its introduction, many critics have disagreed.
Shen Tingting, director of advocacy and policy at Asia Catalyst said sex workers are subjected to police violence, forced labor, compulsory testing for sexually transmitted disease, humiliation and other physical abuse at these education centers.
She added that abolishing the system was a significant and positive step by the Chinese lawmakers.
A report by Human Rights Watch interviewed 140 sex workers, clients, police, and specialists and found that police beat many sex workers in an attempt to coerce confessions also.
According to Xinhua, Chinese state media the arbitrary detention system will come to an end on December 29 and those still in custody will be released immediately.

Why Chinese lawmakers abolish the law

Free push to close the education centers took form after the Chinese lawmakers’ committee abolished the system of “re-education” through labor camps in 2013.
The lawmaker shut down the labor camps introduced as a speedy way to punish petty offenders, ending a longtime practice criticized by human rights groups.
The Chinese lawmakers, however, retained the right to detain sex workers and their clients. In 2014, police announced that popular actor Huang Haibo was also arrested and would be held for six months for having solicited a prostitute.
Recently as the country continues to deepen legal reforms and the criminal system, the custody and education program is less and less appropriate, the state media noted.
Xinhua stated:

The custody and education system’s historical role had already been completed. This is an essential manifestation of strengthening social management using the rule of law thinking and methods.

Prostitution remains illegal

Prostitution according to the report remains unlawful, however, with punishments of up to 15 days in detention and fines of up to 5,000 Yuan ($714.76).
Activists such as Shen urged the Chinese lawmakers to focus on providing a framework to ensure the health and safety of sex work as a profession rather than prohibition and cracking down on sex work.
Featured Image from: Sapiens


Daniel Abel

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