Mainland sex workers barred, but NGOs say they are victims Signs are going up in Kuala Lumpur's popular Bukit Bintang area telling young women from China to stay away. The district is popular with tourists and shoppers, but it has also gained a reputation as a red-light district as several lawmakers this week described it as the 'Patpong of Malaysia', (referring to Bangkok's notorious district). 'China woman not admitted', reads one sign outside a nightclub called Pink Heaven. Another sign at a nearby karaoke lounge says: 'No Women from China Allowed'. 'The China dolls bring only trouble,' said pub owner Allan Tan, using a derogatory term that describes a Chinese sex worker. 'Anti-vice police are not far off, so are gangsters, pimps and drug pushers.' Even seafood restaurants along the country's west coast fronting the Strait of Malacca that were favourite places for elderly businessmen to pick up an escort for the weekend are beginning to refuse the 'China dolls'. 'It is easy to pick them out. They are tall and slim, dress differently and speak with an accent. Their manners are also polite compared to local Chinese women,' said restaurant owner Michael Lee. Previously, they were welcomed because they had attracted big spenders, but not any more. 'We just don't want trouble with the law,' said Mr Lee. Leading Chinese-language daily China Press reported that night spot owners were even checking passports of the women to verify their legal status before admitting them. 'Even Singaporean and Indonesian women are being turned away,' the paper said, adding that accompanying males were asked to sign documents at the entrance to 'guarantee' their companions. The reason for the sudden change in attitude is the tough action police are taking to curb prostitution, crime and drug trafficking. Night spots were raided and fined if they had a woman without valid papers on their premises. Some outlets have had their licences revoked. 'We can't arrest them unless they have overstayed,' a police spokesman said, adding that offenders were deported and blacklisted from re-entering. This week the government revealed in parliament that 15,500 foreign women were arrested for prostitution between 2004 and July this year and nearly 62 per cent of those were from China.But human rights workers say most of the women, usually from southern provinces such as Fujian are trafficked by crime syndicates and should be given support and protection not penalised as prostitutes and criminals. 'It is the international syndicates that make the big money ... most girls are exploited and return home broken and shattered,' said Irene Fernandez, head of Tenaganita, an NGO that helps migrant workers. She blamed syndicates in China that place advertisements offering ridiculously high salaries for jobs in factories as the main attraction to be enticed to Malaysia. 'Their passports are taken away and they are slaves for their owners, and when arrested they spend a few months in jail and are deported,' Dr Fernandez said. 'They end up as statistics.'