The Chinese government is arbitrarily detaining sex workers through a flawed government policy purportedly aimed at education and rehabilitation, Asia Catalyst said in a new report released today. The report documents excessive use of force by police in the detention of female sex workers, as well as the women’s subsequent incarceration in the little-known “Custody and Education (C&E)” system.
Asia Catalyst research found that under the C&E system, sex workers and clients are deprived of their freedom for long periods of time with no genuine right to challenge the decision or external safeguards. Public security organs have full control over the decision, execution and supervision of C&E, which authorizes officials to detain sex workers and their clients for a period of six months to two years, without trial or judicial oversight.
“Sex workers face widespread discrimination and stigma which has enabled this arbitrary detention with little public outcry or a genuine means for redress,” said Charmain Mohamed, Executive Director of Asia Catalyst. “C&E is a punitive measure that does little to improve the education or health of these women.”
Asia Catalyst and two partner organizations interviewed 30 female sex workers and one law enforcement officer in Northern China from December 2012 to July 2013.Interviewees reported experiencing physical violence at the hands of police, including use of force to extract confessions. Police officers also extorted large amounts of money in exchange for the release of detained women, imposing a heavy economic burden on sex workers and their families.