In Shanghai there are so many prostitutes that I got curious and I did some researches about prostitution in China. One of best source of information on the topics is Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China.
According to the local police, in China there are seven categories of prostitutes (see N. Dougherty’s master thesis for details):
- Mistress or Second wife (二奶, èrnăi): She gets a monthly salary in exchange for regular sexual favors. Even if she usually does not offer romance or family life, sometimes she lives with the customer and may wish to marry him.
- Packaged girl (包婆, bāopó ): Similar to second wives but only work for limited time, as on business trips. These two upper tiers correspond to the ancient concubine, although the second wife and packaged girl are mostly kept secretly rather than in the household. Only rich men and Party cadres can afford them, therefore these girls are linked to corruption.
An example of business card you may get walking down Nanjing Road, Shanghai.
- Female companions (陪女, péinǚ): You can find them everywhere in China: restaurants, karaoke – the (in)famous KTV xiăojie, – bars and clubs. For what I could notice, they usually stay in a corner playing with their cell phone and drinking some cocktails till a customer arrives. Many of these girls are employed to dance, sing, drink with the customers that pay for a table or, it the case of KTVs, for a room. Some of them will eventually leave with the customers.
- Ding dong girls (叮咚小姐, dīngdōng xiăojie): They rent a room in a hotel and call the other rooms offering their services, usually a “massage.” They woke me up several time while I was staying in a hotel. Personally, I would add to this category also the girls that look for customers on QQ (the Chinese MSN) or on the web in general.
- Hairdressers and masseuses (发廊妹, fàlángmèi): Chinese hair salons and massage parlors are the place to go if you want to get a cheap “happy ending” (usually by masturbation or oral sex), especially the ones full of bored half-naked girls lighted up by pink lights you can find close to a train or subway station.
The fàlángmèi are often migrants from the countryside and perform contractual work under a proprietress (lăobănniáng) or a pimp (pítiáo) who provide them with housing, clothing and food, as well as a cell phone and monthly subscription. They do not make much more money than a worker, unless they receive tips from the customers.
- Street girl (街女, jiēnǚ): The name explains everything. They solicit customers in the halls of the hotels, bars and other entertainment outlets. They may offer petting (shàngbànchăng, first half) or intercourse (xiàbànchăng, second half). Street prostitutes may be accompanied by a lăobănniáng or work on their own. They are those at greatest risk of being apprehended by the police.
- Underclass girl (下工棚, xiàgōngpéng): They live in urban slams, usually in construction sites. They fill a social and sexual void, as the migrant workers usually have left their wives at home, and are paid with food.
Richbaby, one of most famous club in Shanghai.
Some facts about prostitution in China
A survey found that prostitutes were considered more trustworthy than government officials. Overall prostitutes ranked third on the list of professions behind farmers and religious workers. [Source: Insight China magazine, 2009]
In general, Chinese are quite ignorant about the dangers of AIDS. Prostitutes in China regularly have sex with men without using condoms. Fifty percent of Chinese think that AIDS is transmitted by kissing. [Source: asiahealthcareblog.com]
If you choose to pursue treatment for your STD while in China expect that positive tests will be reported to the Ministry of Health. This can complicate matters if you own a business in China, or if you like to go in and out of the country often.
Even if you don’t speak Mandarin, Chinese will still notice when you come home with a prostitute and they will talk about it. An American woman who had lived in Beijing for twenty years with her husband, one day found out that he had five girlfriends spread across China, several children, and at least a Chinese wife. How? Well, she overheard her Chinese neighbors talking about a white man that lived in the neighborhood and was seen with different Chinese women, one of whom had a half-Chinese child. [Source: asiahealthcareblog.com]
A Japanese restaurant in Kunming, Yunnan Province used to serves sushi on the bodies of scantily clothed young girls. They had their body chilled in an ice room before lying on a table to have food served on them. [Source:factsanddetails.com]
Foreigners caught hiring prostitutes are usually fined and released. [Source:factsanddetails.com]
There is a demand for paying to take a young girl’s virginity. The price has risen since 2005, when prostitutes dressed as schoolgirls became fashionable in China’s sex trade. [Source: Stephanie Wang, Asia Times, 2009]