Trafficking and Prostitution on the Rise in China

Despite China’s developing market economy, high unemployment among women desperate to support their families, has contributed to a dramatic rise in trafficking and prostitution, according to the Chicago Tribune. Small private agencies, purporting to offer jobs that pay $40 to $70 per month to women working as cleaners, maids, and restaurant workers, in actuality sell the women into sex trafficking. Women tell Newsweek that determining the legitimacy of such operations is extremely difficult.

The 2002 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released last June by the US State Department categorized China among 51 other Tier 2 nations countries not meeting full compliance with minimum standards of the 2002 Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, but making significant efforts to do so. China was also identified as a “source and destination” country, because the bulk of trafficking activity occurs within national borders.

Earlier this year, a man was executed in the Guangxi province for the abduction and sale at $125 to $375 per person of 104 women as wives to farmers. Increasingly, thousands of girls from northern provinces are being trafficked into western provinces for prostitution. Still, trafficking is not limited to the sex trade. Currently, 42 people in China are on trial for the largest people smuggling operation in the country numbering about 730 illegal immigrants to Japan. Eight people stand accused of organizing the trafficking while 32 people are being tried as accomplices. Worldwide, an estimated 700,000 people most women and children are victims of trafficking each year, according to the 2002 TIP report.

Recent statistics from the World Bank indicate that 22.9 percent of Chinese women between the ages of 15 and 64 are illiterate, leaving them with few professional options. “When a friend comes back wearing nice clothes and with expensive things, they are impressed because they have never seen so much,” a source told Newsweek. “Since they have no capabilities or diploma, they have no other way [than prostitution].” Now that China has joined the World Trade Organization, foreign competition for jobs will make job training for women ever more critical in combating trafficking.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women’s narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.


Chicago Tribune 11/06/02, Newsweek 10/30/02, BBC 11/13/02, State Dept. Report 2002; World Bank April 2002; BBC 11/26/02

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