“The World of Suzie Wong” set in Wan Chai was what brought attention to the escort industry of Hong Kong. It gave people a better idea of what goes on in the region, and how prostitution and the red light districts are a very prominent part of the culture there.
Zi Teng, an advocate for sex workers rights group for the escort and prostitution industry in Hong Kong estimates that about 100,000 females are working in the business in various massage parlors and brothels in several red light districts throughout Hong Kong. Working as an escort is legal in Hong Kong, as long as specific rules are followed. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t disobeying the laws behind the scenes. People travel from all over the globe to experience what happens here. Dive in yourself and find out what makes the Hong Kong escort industry so exciting.
Many of the men and women that work in the escort industry in Hong Kong can be found lingering around on the streets or inside multi-level buildings behind individual doors. Each worker must function as an individual or be self-employed for the service to be considered legal. However, there are plenty of workers that disobey the laws to get more business, have more protection, and make the process run more smoothly.
Japanese nightclubs and massage parlors are popular places to find escorts, but the one-woman apartments are the most common. With the law stating that no two women may work as prostitutes in the same premise, these separate apartments, even though in the same buildings, are the workaround that guideline. Many find these women through online advertising and classified ads. Newspapers will also distribute flyers with information about services available so that prostitutes can have access to clients and make appointments to support their “businesses.”
With the increase in the use of the internet and technology, the amount of amateurs entering the escort industry is growing. These women and men can sit in the comfort of their homes or apartments and advertise their services. They don’t have to take to the streets or worry about finding a pimp or mamasan (female pimp) to take care of them.
One problem with the internet is the explosion of underage girls offering themselves on various platforms. They can meet up with customers, make their money, and act as if nothing has ever happened. Many have been doing it as a form of income so they can pay for things like cell phones and clothing. They don’t see themselves as escorts, probably because the practice is legal in Hong Kong, so it doesn’t seem to be anything taboo.
Women from the Philippines and other nearby locations have been known to get two-week visas to come and work in the red light districts when there are big events taking place. If there is an expectation of loads of tourists coming from outside of the country, it’s an opportunity for them to make a lot of money in a short amount of time. They come in when business is good, make piles of cash, and go back home.
One major issue that the government is dealing with is trying to determine which workers are there on their own free will and which ones are being forced to take part in escorting because of being sex trafficked to Hong Kong. Many victims from China, Thailand, South America, the Philippines, and other countries around the world are brought to the area because it’s a legal practice.
They are made to work for free, and there is no way to prove that they have been brought to the region against their will. Unfortunately, most of them don’t have the proper paperwork to even be in the area, so if law enforcement contacts them, they get charged for immigration crimes instead of being saved from the grips of their captors.
To prevent the escort industry from exploding into other kinds of questionable sectors and cause a nuisance to the public, laws and police enforcement work to regulate it. Officers try to keep men and women from soliciting in public and from breaching the conditions of stay.
According to the government in Hong Kong, “living off the proceeds of prostitution” is illegal. That means that a prostitute can pay no person for providing him or her any service. That makes the job a risky one for those working in the escort industry. They cannot legally hire a bodyguard or security of any kind to protect them. They can’t even hire a cleaner to come in and be in the building where they are performing their services in case something does go wrong.
There’s still work that needs to be done to make the escort industry one that can work in harmony with law enforcement. It’s something that is continually being focused on to ensure it happens in a way to benefit everyone someday.
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