“Swept Away”: Abuses against Sex Workers in China
Report by Human Rights Watch, May 2013.
“Women engaging in sex work are victims of a wide range of police abuses; this report
documents arbitrary arrests and detentions, physical violence, and other ill-treatment of
sex workers in Beijing, and discusses the national legal framework that facilitates these
abuses….While many of these practices violate Chinese law as well as international human rights law, the government is doing far too little to bring an end to the abuses or to ensure that women in sex work have access to health services.”
“Human Rights Watch believes the Chinese government should take immediate steps to protect the human rights of all people who engage in sex work. It should repeal the host of laws and regulations that are repressive and misused by the police, and end the practice of indiscriminate law enforcement “sweeps.” The government should also lift its sharp restrictions on the ability of civil society organizations—including sex worker organizations—to register and carry out their activities freely within the boundaries of the law. Finally, it should commit to international standards on HIV/AIDS testing, particularly with respect to privacy and informed consent.”
• Enact legislation to remove criminal and administrative sanctions against voluntary,
consensual adult sex work and related offenses, such as solicitation.
• End periodic mobilization campaigns to “sweep away prostitution and
pornography” (saohuang dafei) that have generated widespread and severe
abuses against women engaging in sex work.
• Publicly commit to strict nationwide enforcement of provisions that prohibit
arbitrary arrests and detentions, police brutality, coerced confessions, and torture,
and ensure swift prosecution of police officers who violate these provisions.
• Immediately end mandatory HIV/AIDS testing of sex workers, require informed
consent prior to testing, inform anyone tested for HIV of the results, make
appropriate counseling available before and after the test, and implement testing
programs that conform with international standards.
• Initiate consultations with sex workers and relevant nongovernmental
organizations to consider other legislative reforms to better protect the rights of