In China, sex work is being pushed back into the shadows

ONCE referred to even in China’s media as the country’s “sex capital”, the southern city of Dongguan remains the subject of many lewd jokes. Tens of thousands of sex workers used to practise in the city, servicing people working in its vast sprawl of factories as well as visitors drawn by its sleaze. That began to change early in 2014, when the local government launched an unusually fierce anti-vice campaign. In the first few days alone some 6,000 police raided 2,000 saunas, karaoke bars and other such venues. They hauled away many of their staff and patrons.

Four years later punters can still buy sex in Dongguan, as they can across China. A taxi-driver explains that instead of operating in posh hotels and “super saunas”, as many of them used to, Dongguan’s sex workers now mainly ply their trade more discreetly. He offers an appointment with a woman he knows. Yet city officials have done a far more thorough job of clamping down on the business than most locals expected. They have…Continue reading


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