Sex workers in China subject to police abuse
14 May 2013
By LOUISE WATT
In this Aug. 13, 2010 photo, policemen detain suspected prostitutes in a campaign to crack down on prostitution in Xi'an, in northwestern China's Shaanxi province. (AP Photo)
BEIJING (AP) -- Police in China frequently beat, torture and arbitrarily detain suspected sex workers, often with little or no evidence that they engaged in prostitution, a rights group said Tuesday in a report that called on the government to discipline abusive officers.
Officers sometimes detain women only on the basis of their carrying condoms, thus deterring their use among sex workers and increasing the risk of spreading HIV, New York-based Human Rights Watch said. It also condemned forced HIV testing of sex workers by public health agencies and the disclosure of the results to third parties.
The government officially views prostitution as an "ugly social phenomenon" and the solicitation, sale and purchase of sex in China are illegal. However, despite frequent government crackdowns, prostitution remains rampant and sexual services are openly offered in massage parlors, karaoke bars and nightclubs.
Human Rights Watch said they interviewed women who told of violence by police and of being detained following sex with undercover officers. One anonymous woman cited in the report said she and two colleagues were assaulted by police who "attached us to trees, threw freezing cold water on us, and then proceeded to beat us."