Regional updates: Asia and the Pacific
After several years of intensified focus on gathering biometric data and piloting targeted surveillance methods, the Chinese government has established a large police force with the technology to enable a mass detention of sex workers, drug users and Uyghur people, a Muslim ethnic
Sex workers and sex worker rights’ organisations have strongly criticised the verdict and handling of the case of CJ Palmer, a trans woman and former sex worker who was convinced of grievous bodily harm in January 2018. CJ was convicted on the charge, after four hours of deliberation, in relation to her ex-partner testing positive for HIV, and has been remanded in a men’s prison awaiting sentencing on 16th February. She has already spent 9 months in the same men’s prison awaiting trial.
December saw another raid on a sex workers’ workplace in Tel Aviv, with 11 people arrested on charges of running a ‘prostitution ring'. The raids targeted a number of workplaces around the city’s old central bus station.
Zi Teng, a sex worker-led organisation in Hong Kong, has marked International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, which falls each year on 17th December.
A man has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after a Singaporean court found that he paid a migrant sex worker using counterfeit notes that he made himself at home. In October 2017, Daniel Wong was convicted on two charges of counterfeiting and using the home-printed S$100 counterfeit notes. He was handed a 3-year sentence, though each charge was punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.
A spa and sauna house used by gay men in Jakarta has become the latest target of an ongoing police crackdown against sex workers and the LGBT community in Indonesia. On 6 October 2017, 51 men were arrested and detained, with media reporting that some could face up to six years in prison under pornography and sex work laws.
Agape International Missions (AIM), a US-based charity that operates brothel raids and ‘rehabilitation’ programmes in Cambodia, was almost forced to leave Cambodia and cease operations this summer, after a CNN news report on trafficking that featured AIM angered Cambodian citizens and high-level government officials, including the Prime Minister.
The news report, “Life after trafficking: The Cambodian girls sold for sex by their mothers,” originally released on 22 July 2017, quickly drew criticism from the public and Cambodian government for misrepresenting the problem of trafficking in Cambodia, and defaming Cambodian women and mothers in general to raise funds.
A Swedish NGO, Love and Hope (formerly LoveNepal) in Nepal collected donations from Swedish people based on false claims of “saving children from brothels” and posting photographs on social media of three girls they claimed to be sex workers.