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Women groups condemn Ho's sex trade call
( 2003-11-21 11:01) (China Daily)

With three days to go, The Frontier's Cyd Ho Sau-lan has engaged in fierce debate with DAB's Ip Kwok-him to win voters in Kwun Lung constituency.

Representatives from 16 women's rights groups stage a protest against a request by District Council election contestant Cyd Ho (far left) that Hong Kong should legalize the sex trade, November 20, 2003. They claimed that her remarks were utterly disrespectful towards women's rights and dignity. [newsphoto.com.cn]
In an attempt to gain the upper hand, Ho enlisted the help of legislators including Michael Mak Kwok-fung, Emily Lau Wai-hing and Lau Chin-shek to rally support in Kennedy Town of Western District Thursday.

In spite of the support of a stellar cast, Ho soon met with opposition from representatives of women's groups, who accused her of advocating legalization of prostitution and attempting to develop a red-light district.

The representatives said Ho, who likened marital sex to "wholesale" and prostitution to "retail", has shown disrespect for women, marital relations and is not fit to represent the voices of local women.

They not only criticized Ho, who proclaimed the slogan "women must strengthen themselves", as a hypocrite, but chastised her for lying to Hong Kong's women and insulting their intelligence.

Women representatives at the scene proceeded to hand out photocopies of Ho's remarks, which suggested "women are providing wholesale sex to their husbands, while prostitutes are retailing sex services, and both should be considered legitimate activities".

They shouted slogans including "we condemn Ho Sau-lan for wholesaling women", "women are not goods, and we are not for sale, be it wholesale or retail", "hypocrite, disgrace to women", and "we want a peaceful community, not a red-light district".

Ho tried her best to retain her composure and told the representatives that she is willing to establish constructive dialogue. The outburst took most legislators by surprise, and even veteran agitator Emily Lau Wai-hing was at a loss for words.

Meanwhile, legislators Martin Lee Chu-ming and Lau Chin-shek have retreated to the back row, engaging in private banter amidst periodic bursts of laughter.

"Ho's slogans that proclaim women must strengthen themselves and give support for elderly women only contradict what she said earlier. Why should we choose such a hypocrite to represent us?" said the chairman of the Central and Western Districts Women Association.

When asked if they supported rival Ip Kwok-him and why they decided to demonstrate on this occasion, representatives stressed they are from officially registered organizations and have come to protest against Ho.

After handing Ho a letter, they began vacating the premises. In vain, Ho implored women at the scene to listen to her explanation. The protesters continued to shout slogans of disapproval.

According to Ho, her "wholesale" theory debuted at an open discussion forum a few years ago, based on a notion of transactional marriages in modern societies. Ho said she only suggested the establishment of a red-light district after considering police and triad intimidation of prostitutes, who are often afraid to report to authorities.

Ho added that the press has misinterpreted her comments, and that she only compared marital sex to wholesaling, but did not include the concept of retail.

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