Poverty, Abduction and Prostitution In Modern China

High unemployment has led many women, especially women from the rural sector, to enter into a life of prostitution. This problem had been widespread in the pre-Maoist era of China and has resurfaced again in market capitalist China. According to Article 37 of the law on the protection of women, "prostitution or whoring shall be prohibited. It is prohibited for anyone to organize, force, seduce, shelter or introduce a woman to engage in prostitution or employ or shelter a woman to engage in obscene activities with others." (1992) However, the everyday living situations of poor and unemployed women have led them into this life in order to provide for themselves and their children. Many of the prostitutes in China are laid off workers who can not find a job within the economy or rural women who come to the cities looking for better opportunities.

In the rural sector, selling of daughters have also resurfaced. In some provinces, the practice of families selling their daughters for a profit to older unmarried men or widowers has become commonplace. In these arrangements, police and government officials are either doing the trading or they are paid to remain quiet about the dealings. It is estimated that at least tens of thousands of women are sold into domestic and sexual slavery each year. Many of these women are never recovered or if they are they are normally to ashamed to go back to their families. According to a New York Times article in 1995, "countless women have been kidnapped from this market in Xian, from similar markets in other cities and from bus stops and train stations in towns all over China. Typically, a woman is lured into the custody of one or more criminal middleman, beaten into submission and delivered to a stranger who will call her his wife."


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