While past studies have explored the situation of adult migrant and Mainland Chinese sex workers with respect to violence, migration, working conditions, occupational safety and trafficking, very little is known about trafficking of young local sex workers and minors in Hong Kong. Between late 2019 to 2020, STOP interviewed 7 former part-time girlfriends and 14 stakeholders to understand more about the work conditions of female local youth sex workers in Hong Kong.
Through this project, we hope to capture a holistic picture of young people’s experiences, including both their vulnerability and resiliences to exploitation in the HK sex trade, and potential intersections with human trafficking. It also seeks to prioritise young people’s voices, and provide a space for them to speak about their needs and hopes for the future.
As we see the vulnerabilities of exploited people, it is important that we respect and acknowledge sex workers’ autonomy and self-agency. While STOP has assisted a numbers of forced prostitution cases involving migrant women tricked or coerced to work in Hong Kong, there are plenty of sex workers by choice. How do local youths enter the compensated dating scene? We spoke with seven young PTGFs who offered sexual services and had entered the industry before the age of 24.
Before entering the industry, majority of interviewees had the impression that PTGF work is ‘simple’, ‘easy’, and a way to earn ‘quick money’. When asked how their opinions about the industry have changed after working in it, more than half have acquired a less favourable view. What has caused the change?
Workers in the sex industry are commonly exposed to various forms of exploitation and violence. As sex workers in Hong Kong can only work independently by law, they are left with no choice but to handle risky situations alone. In turn, many have developed their own set of self-protection strategies. We have compiled a list of ‘self-defense principles’ shared by our interviewees.
When it comes to regulations on the sex industry in Hong Kong, whose interests and morals do policymakers protect? As a strong believer of worker-led policy reforms, STOP asked interviewees to share their thoughts on present policies.
NOT ALL YOUNG SEX WORKERS ARE EXPLOITED. HOWEVER, AS EXISTING POLICIES ARE INADEQUATE TO PROVIDE PROTECTION, ENGAGEMENT IN THIS LINE OF WORK EXPOSES THEM TO EXPLOITATION RISKS”
Rights Exposure ——————— 研究顧問
青躍 ——————— 合作機構
岑俊達博士 ——————— 義務學術顧問
李紫媚博士 ——————— 義務學術講者 (研究訪問員訓練)
Suzanne Wong, Yanyan Chan ——————— 研究訪問員
陳詠欣 ——————— 撰文者
劉玉梅 ——————— 攝影師
Our heartfelt thanks to all of the sex workers who gave their time despite the challenges of the pandemic, and so generously shared with us about their lives and insights. We are deeply grateful also to all stakeholders who participated in this project for sharing their perspectives and expertise.
This project would not have been possible without the help of various individuals and organizations:
Rights Exposure ——————— Research Consultant
Teen’s Key ——————— Partner Organization
Dr Terence Shum ——————— pro bono Academic Consultant
Dr Li Chi-mei ——————— pro bono Academic Speaker (Research Interviewer Training)
Suzanne Wong, Yanyan Chan ——————— Research Interviewers
Eugene Chan ——————— Author of Articles
Carol Lau ——————— Photographer