Over 10 Million Sex Workers Estimated in China

By Lin Yuguo, Central News Agency
October 20, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: October 20, 2006 12:00 am

HONG KONG—Prostitution has become the number one cause for the increasingly rapid spread of AIDS in China. Facing a rapidly growing sex industry, China's present legal system is unable to eliminate prostitution. The controversial attempts at safe sex education for prostitutes may help reduce the further spread of AIDS in China.

A recent commentary from Hong Kong's Oriental Daily News suggests that there are at least 10 million sex workers in China today. Because of prostitution's strong correlation to the increasing spread of AIDS, the commentary suggested that implementation of educational measures by China's Department of Public Health is needed to reduce further spread of AIDS.

According to officials' statistics, there are more than 840,000 AIDS cases in China today. The number of cases is expected to exceed 10 million in the next five years. Numbers from non-government funded AIDS research institutes estimates today's AIDS population to be more than 10 million.

There is currently no attempt at safe sex education when police arrest and jail prostitutes and their customers when enforcing the existing laws against prostitution. In addition, police have become more lenient in the enforcement of anti-prostitution laws. Police only make a show of cracking down on prostitution and make arrests during political events or public festivals. In some areas, the police use arrest as a form of punishment for the “misses,” another term for female sex workers in China, that the authorities had previously pretended not to exist.

During two People's Congress Conferences this year, over 20 representatives from Heilongjiang Province co-proposed a proposal to legalize prostitution. The proposal included the building of a red-light district in the city and offering “misses” regular physical exams. The proposal was defeated.

Recently, a group of prostitutes from Harbin, a city in northeast China, were invited to receive special education on the use of condoms. The “misses” were also offered vaccines to prevent HIV.

Edited by The Epoch Times.