Increasing Numbers of Chinese College Students Turn to Prostitution

By Han Qing, Radio Free Asia
June 5, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: June 5, 2006 12:00 am

A recent investigation into an Internet-based prostitution ring by police from Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, discovered that a significant number of the prostitutes are female college students.

According to Xinhua News Agency, illegal pornographic operations in China are increasingly targeting college campuses. Qian, the leader of the Internet-based prostitution ring in Hangzhou, made huge profits from introducing female college students to wealthy “clients”.

Internet-based sex deals provide anonymity for clients. Qian posted photos of female students on a website and made their contact details available with one click on the photos. Qian charges Internet users about 1,000 yuan for each “transaction,” as well as the 300 yuan “introduction fee” that he charges the students.

Mr. Ma Xiaoming, a former reporter with Shaanxi Provincial Television, said the students have different reasons for turning to prostitution. Some of them come from low-income families, and some have a distorted concept of money and low morality.

Ma said, “There are many factors involved. The primary one is moral degeneration and the degeneration of morale on campus. In society, people just want money. As long as they have money and fame, as long as they have the material things they chase after, they don't care how they get them.

“Some say that the Chinese people today believe in nothing. I say that's not true, because they do believe in money. They will do anything to get money and better living conditions. Some of them are really hard up. There are people in this category, too.”

Dr. William Lan from the Texas Technology University College of Education said that it was really heart-wrenching for Chinese scholars abroad to learn that some Chinese female university students have become prostitutes.

“I learnt about this situation through the internet,” said Lan. “I hope this is not common. The reasons behind this are quite complicated, and some of the students could be driven by poverty.

“But I feel the most dangerous thing in China is that people look down on poverty but not prostitution. To them there's nothing wrong with becoming a prostitute, but people may laugh at you if you are poor. Such a trend is really worrying.”

Regarding the subject of prostitution involving female college students, Profession Hu Xingdou from Beijing Institute of Technology said, “Of course students from some schools sell their bodies in hotels. This may have something to do with financial difficulties in their families, or the individual's desire to spend money to dress up, so she needs money. It is true that the trends in society have an influence on them. But I think our students, including both men and women, should respect themselves and make money through upright channels. They should have the right perspective regarding money and should not seek that little bit of economic interest unscrupulously. I think the students should have this mentality.”

Mr. Liu, a physiatrist at a university in Beijing, said, “Indeed there are such [prostitutes] among college students in China. Some of them may be from remote areas in China, and their families may have difficulty supporting their tuition and living expenses. Some of these students may make this choice. This is normal. However, in the end, the price they pay is huge.”

Ms. Song Meiya, senior editor of the Beijing-based Chinese Women's Press, said, “Of course there are all kinds of degenerate trends in society, which have contributed to many female college students [becoming prostitutes]. For example, they have to dress in a certain way. During job interviews there are so many requirements on them. There are more and more requirements and pressure on women nowadays.

“What can they do to deal with the pressure? They are giving up a lot, including their bodies. So I think when women are giving their bodies away, it is also a sign of society's choice.”

Reports in recent years say that many wealthy men are looking to college campuses to buy pleasure. They believe that female students are well educated, “safe and clean,” and look good when they go out together. Some even pay for college students to be their long-term mistresses. Song said, “Men use their power and money to purchase sex as a material thing…They treat women as merchandise.”

She asked who is more responsible for the situation: the prostitutes, or those who buy their services.

(Compiled from a recording by Radio Free Asia)