Revealing city's sex trafficking scourge

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 March, 2013, 2:21am

Congratulations to the Sunday Morning Post [and online edition] for drawing attention to the issue of sex trafficking in Hong Kong with three articles on March 10 ("New strategy to close the net on sex traffickers", "Raped but too scared to seek help" and "On the ground: Caritas Hong Kong and the fight against trafficking").

For the past nine months the Vine Church has been researching this issue as background for our project STOP (Stop sex trafficking of people) which is preparing a draft legislative framework more appropriate for Hong Kong's fight against sex trafficking.

In this research we have noted that it has been very difficult to obtain authoritative statistics and data which would help to shed some light on the real situation on the streets.

While "official" comments would tend to suggest that there is not much of a problem in Hong Kong, stories and anecdotal information suggest otherwise.

We are in the process of collecting and documenting any such information which will help us to understand more fully the issues in Hong Kong and would welcome any information to which readers might have access.

The issue of sex trafficking has become of great concern worldwide not only in the sense of being identified as 21st century slavery but also what it says about our attitude towards women.

Gender prejudice, gender abuse, gender violation and killing of women are being recognised as major issues affecting our societies worldwide and not just associated with so-called third world cultures.

The abuse of women demonstrated by the attitudes of men who are fuelling sex trafficking is very much an issue of civilised society.

The abuse is reinforced by the approach of much legislation, which tends to criminalise the providers of sexual services but not the users.

The approach of STOP in reviewing the international legislative framework is to consider carefully the Swedish legal model which penalises users of the sex industry.

This has proved to be a successful deterrent to sex trafficking in Sweden for many years. It may be that an approach along these lines will prove to be more appropriate for Hong Kong and help to generate a more healthy attitude towards women in this society.

Tony Read, justice advocate, the Vine Church