#61 – Sweeping away the yellow: the life and fate of Chinese sex workers

Speaker

ZHANG Lijia 张丽佳, Writer, Journalist and Public Commentator

 

 

Abstract

Inspired by her grandmother’s story of being sold into prostitution at the age of fourteen, the Beijing-based writer Zhang Lijia decided to take a closer look at the dynamics driving China’s fastest-growing industry – sex trade.

According to Zhang’s research, over ten million women are involved in sex trade, the high majority of which are rural migrant workers, uneducated and unskilled, who move to coastal areas seeking a better life but find themselves with limited employment choices. These workers are pulled into the sex industry with the promise of higher income opportunities and lighter working shifts; compared to the alternative of working in a factory, the offer is too appealing to turn down. Zhang’s work in this field led her to write her first novel, Lotus, which was published earlier this year.

During the talk she will share the insights she gained after interviewing sex workers in Shenzhen and Beijing. Her talk will focus on the reasons girls’ decide to enter this market; the growing gender inequality and rural-urban divide that affects post-reform China; the role of prostitution in the business landscape; and the increasingly harsh government’s campaigns of saohuang 扫黄.

 

 

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