Even while cracking down on prostitution in places such as nightclubs, the Ministry of Public Security has said that prostitutes deserve respect.
Its respect for this special group of people includes calling them "women going astray" rather than prostitutes.
In some areas of the country these women are humiliated with beatings or parades through streets. However, the Ministry of Public Security has said that the files of women who go astray should be kept secret and they should not be treated in a disrespectful manner.
The ministry will work with other institutions, such as the Ministry of Health and the All-China Women's Federation to re-educate and redeem women who have taken a wrong step in their life. They are committed to protecting these women's rights to health, their reputation and privacy.
The new attitude toward the "women going astray" is groundbreaking, it shows less contempt and exclusion. We read empathy in it.
But this change won't eliminate prostitution, which is illegal in China.
Prostitution has a close affinity with a host of other important social issues, in particular crime, drugs, sexual equality, poverty and health.
Although there are exceptions, most prostitutes are women selling their services to men.
Prostitution is sometimes referred to as "the oldest profession". The new approach in China to women in the "oldest profession" may help give them a new chance at life if they decide to give up the "business".
Prostitution amounts to the denial of a women's humanity. Crimes such as prostitution devalue a community.
Rounds of raids have been conducted to rid the nation of prostitution. But signs of success are not conspicuous. One of the reasons is that justice is not meted out to men who buy sex from "women going astray".
We urge law enforcement officials across the country to continue an active investigation of all undesirable activities, including those crimes involving prostitution. Prostitution cannot and must not be allowed to continue in the nightclubs or any other location.
Liu Shaowu, a senior official with the Ministry of Public Security, announced that the police would keep a close eye on places of amusement - at least one undercover inspection a week.
Prostitution will never be eliminated in a society that refuses to acknowledge, much less discuss, the problem. While the Ministry of Public Security does not want to throw "women going astray" out of society, programs are needed to educate them to live with dignity.
(China Daily 12/15/2010 page8)