Our Sex Workers Need Protection

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It is reasonable that there be regulation of prostitution, but laws in Hong Kong that were originally designed, at least partly, to prevent sex workers from falling under the control of pimps and organized crime are now killing the very sex workers they were meant to help.

Eight female sex workers have been killed in the past year—two of them in this month alone. The reason is that, by law, there cannot be more than one prostitute working out of any given address. This means that they are required to work alone, in “one-woman brothels,” where they are vulnerable to robbery and violence from any chopper-toting maniac who comes through the door. Sex workers are not allowed to hire bodyguards, because the guards would be considered to be living off the earnings of prostitution, and that is also an offence.

The government has been contemptuously silent on this issue, even as the death toll mounts, and refuses to concede that any change to the law is necessary. This is nonsense. Defenseless women are being preyed upon and the authorities must act. I refer anybody interested in the issue to Ziteng, a Hong Kong NGO that campaigns on behalf of sex workers.

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