The Plight of Sex Workers in China: From Criminalisation and Abuse to Activism

To this day, the Chinese Party-state perceives sex work as a violation of the human rights of women. Therefore, the Chinese authorities believe that sex workers need to be rescued and reeducated, and regularly subject them to periodic crackdowns and long spells of detention in ‘rehabilitation education centres’. In this essay, Tiantian Zheng highlights how policies of this kind have not only fuelled violence, exploitation, abuse, and health risks among Chinese sex workers, but have also had terrible consequences for public health in China.

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