Prostitution in China
Open parade of alleged prostitutes fuels civil rights controversy in China.
Prostitutes paraded in public in Shenzen this week to humiliate them by authorities
A young woman in a yellow prison uniform tried to cover her face with her handcuffed hands, as her full identity was announced to an excited audience.
She was one of about 100 suspected prostitutes and their suspected male patrons who were recently paraded before the public by police in Shenzhen, Guangzhou Province.
This drama kicked off a two-month police anti-prostitution campaign.
The practice of public parade and humiliation was a fairly standard means of punishment of counterrevolutionaries during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976).
But it has been virtually obsolete since it was outlawed by the Ministry of Public Security in the early 1980s.
In singling out prostitutes as the object of this public scorn, the local police were probably encouraged by the belief that prostitution is so stigmatized that offenders are not worthy of those civil rights normally accorded to a citizen.
Apparently the police in question gave little or no consideration to the feelings of the parents, children or spouses of those on parade.
In an open letter recently addressed to the National People's Congress, Shanghai lawyer Yao Jianguo points out that before the police hand cases over to the procuratorate these people are suspects at best.
In thus openly humiliating them the police are clearly guilty of procedural mistakes in law enforcement.
Instead of being humiliated out of their shady business, some prostitutes may end up resigned to their fate and decide there is no hope of turning over a new leaf.
There should be more efforts aimed at eradicating those conditions that give rise to prostitution.
That local police resort to sporadic campaigns rather than routine vigilance suggests they were doing less than enough.
Modified: 04.01.2007 00:16:43
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