Humiliation doesn't work
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-02 06:30

Can humiliation work better than the law?

The practice in American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" is still available in this country.

The way the police in Shenzhen dealt with the sex workers and their clients is cantankerous.

The police took 167 prostitutes and whoremongers to street on Wednesday. In the presence of hundreds of onlookers, their names and places of birth were read out. Each of them was punished by an administrative detention of 15 days.

The police announced that their raids on prostitution in barbershops, beauty parlors and bathhouses would go on.

Allowed to wear gauze masks, the suspects seemed to be unrecognizable.

However, the very parading of the prostitutes and the whoremongers through the streets was a source of humiliation.

The police believed that it could serve as a punishment to these people and a deterrent to others.

This is the reason police in many quarters of Guangdong Province resort to this approach when cracking down on prostitution.

The police are obliged to eliminate pornography. But they should perform their duties under the law.

No laws allow them to bring their suspects to the streets and delivered public judgements.

Pornography and prostitution are prohibited in China. According to the Security Administration Punishment Law, prostitutes and whoremongers are subject to administrative detention from one day to 15 days, with penalties of less than 5,000 yuan (US$638).

Participants in the prostitution transaction are usually penalized according to the Chinese system of administrative sanctions rather than the criminal code.

Legal control of prostitution was based on provincial rulings and local police initiatives until the introduction of the "security administration punishment regulations" in 1987. The regulations makes it an offence to "sell sex" and to "have illicit relations with a prostitute."

Responding to requests from the Ministry of Public Security and the All-China Women's Federation, the National People's Congress passed legislation that significantly expanded the range and scope of prostitution controls: the 1991 Decision on Strictly Forbidding the Selling and Buying of Sex and the 1991 Decision on the Severe Punishment of Criminals Who Abduct and Traffic in or Kidnap Women and Children. Adding weight to these enhanced law enforcement controls was the 1992 Law on Protecting the Rights and Interests of Women, which defines prostitution as a social practice that abrogates the inherent rights of women to personhood.

Offending or insulting the sex workers cannot remove prostitution out of this land. This practice, which outside the law, throws dirt on the police.

(China Daily 12/02/2006 page4)