Massage parlour “happy endings” are considered a form of prostitution and are therefore illegal, Beijing police confirmed on Thursday. This is in response to earlier reports in the southern province of Guangdong which suggested it could be in a legal grey area.
Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily on Wednesday reported that a Foshan court had overturned a decision to charge an owner of a massage parlour and three associates with organised prostitution. They had allegedly allowed employees to offer clients manual stimulation and “other erotic massages”.
After further investigation, the defendants were acquitted due to “unclear facts and improper applications of the law”. The court said manual stimulation was not, by criminal law, considered a form of prostitution.
But Beijing police hit back on Thursday citing its own laws stipulated by the Ministry of Public Security, which specified that providing or receiving of sexual activity for hire, including oral sex, masturbation or sodomy, would be considered prostitution and thus, illegal.
“Prostitution entails both persons involved to have reached a subjective agreement on a price or exchange before the transaction. If both parties acknowledge it is sex for hire; it is considered solicited prostitution,” the Beijing-based Jinghua Times reported, quoting a police statement.
Those caught soliciting prostitution could face between 10 to 15 days in prison and a fine of 5,000 yuan (HK$6,300). Repeated offenders would be fined the same amount but may be sentenced to re-education through labour, the police said.
Manual stimulation by hand is often offered as an extra service at many massage and “beauty” parlours across the country and is an issue of contention.
Though prostitution is illegal in China, no country has as many sex workers. But recent crack downs on the booming trade have made sex workers lives tougher.
A report in May by US-based Human Rights Watch highlighted the difficulties sex workers faced and placed the fault firmly at the door of authorities. The report blamed rigid policies, rampant corruption and the Communist Party's discomfort with sex for assault and abuse by police and customers, arbitrary detentions without trial and forced HIV testing.
Non-governmental groups continue to be discouraged or prevented from helping sex workers.