Decoupling sex and industry in China's Sin City?
Ecns.cn 2015-02-27 10:56:00
A policeman takes down information from two people caught in a hotel room during the citywide crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan, Guangdong province, on Feb 9, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]
In the heart of China's "Sin City", the once-familiar neon sign of three-storey Shengshi Gezhao nightclub is still absent a year into a government crackdown on prostitution.
It was one of many entertainment clubs allegedly involved in the sex trade. As of June last year, 61 establishments had been closed, including 10 that lost their licenses.
By September, only 20 percent had reopened, and the city of Dongguan, China's southern manufacturing hub, had begun phase three of its campaign against prostitution.
The crackdown has exposed sex workers to greater risks, yet many choose to stay in the industry, although they are less visible in the underground venues.
A 28-year-old who gave her name as Xu Li worked at a factory before she swapped her job to become what locals call a "technician".
Since the crackdown, many "technicians" have turned to other work. Xu Li remains in the sex trade for the quick money. "But only for those in the know," she adds. She can earn 20,000 yuan a month, up to six times her salary in the factory.
Xu once considered returning to her hometown in Hubei Province to marry, but she is unwilling to give up her high income and "free" life.
"My boyfriend didn' t know I did this for a living. I'll wait and see - maybe the storm will be over after the Spring Festival," Xu says.
Returning to factory work is out of the question, she insists.
Since the global financial crisis in 2008, manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta city has been withering, driving more young women to the sex trade.
The crackdown on brothels and sex workers has driven a sharp drop in the city' s migrant population.
That's led to many small and medium-sized businesses struggling to meet the demand for higher wages.