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She is going to be a lawyer! To forget my emotions! I want to rely on myself, earn money gradually, and not need to rely on any man. Sex workers hiding their faces to protect their identities, take to the streets of Hong Kong during a march to police headquarters in the Wanchai district, 17 December While Tung Tung, 50, did not intend to join the industry when she first arrived in Hong Kong from the mainland.
She found in sex work a means of providing for herself and her daughter in an environment where she did not speak the language. Yi-man, 57, still works as a sex worker today. As older women, Tung Tung and Yi-man do not fit conventional ideas regarding sex work — where young, local women participate in the industry as a temporary and necessary economic measure.
Nor is sex work widely accepted in society as a legitimate industry — social stigma is embedded in the derogatory language used to describe the act of requesting sexual services: As a prostitute, you sell your body… we do not think this industry should exist. Can I sell myself as a slave? In Hong Kong, commercial sex between two consenting adults is not illegal. But legal provisions targeting people and acts related to sex work create precarious situations.
Even holding a sign advertising sexual services could lead to arrest. Police crackdowns on organised sex work have become more common in recent years. In September , authorities arrested 62 alleged prostitutes from mainland China and Taiwan for breaches of their condition of stay. In , local organisation Zi Teng received complaints from sex workers who were subjected to violence from the police and from clients.
As part of an art project by AFRO, sex workers wrote their reasons for joining the industry on paper doilies. Clockwise from top left: She said such ideas hinder broader acceptance of the industry and protections for workers.