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How The iPhone And WhatsApp Have Changed The Sex Business In Hong Kong

We discuss how the sex business has evolved from the streets to online.

Kate *, a high-school student, found work as a nightclub escortee in Mong Kok. This district is famous for its neon lights and red-lights. He was paid a pittance for each night of work. So when he met a mobster, he proposed to him to find him clients to make more money. Kate was thrilled about the idea.

He brought Kate into a room to make her do shigong. This is Chinese for testing girls before selling them. He dropped the item.

This isn’t the story of a 1970s film about Chinese triads. It’s just one example of the many ways that prostitution girls in Hong Kong use technology to make their own money. Kate, like many young people in Hong Kong today, got into trouble at the nightclub. Shortly thereafter she found online forums that allowed her to start her own sex business. “Paid appointments” can be offered at HK Big Man or HK Mensa without the need of intermediaries.

Bowie Lam Poyee, who runs Teen’s Key, which provides community support to these girls, said that often one of them will find an ad that she likes and copy it. She made only minor changes. Add your contact information, and then agree on the place and charges. This makes it easier to avoid the police. They are less likely to arrest you for prostitution if they check to make sure that you are genuine customers. When a police officer makes a deal via instant messaging, it is easy to identify him.

Lam says that these online forums are quite rare in Hong Kong as the girls involved are young. They don’t realize they are sex workers. They think they will only do it once or twice and it is easy for them to do so.

Lam believes there are approximately 2,500 paid-to-date girls in the city. This is based on data that the organization collected during community outreach. These girls have fled to the internet to hide from their police officers, and they are slow to recognize what is happening. Police have only found 12 cases of paid dating between July 2015 and July 2015. They aren’t breaking any laws in Hong Kong as long as they don’t try to attract clients in public places.

After her horrible experience at the hostess clubs, Kate found online forums to be a great way to launch her career. She also started paying dates through these forums. She simply copied an advertisement from an appropriate forum and changed her name, age, body measurements and contact information. Next, she contacted the client to set up a paid appointment for her announcement on the forum. The girls use WhatsApp and WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging app, to communicate with their clients by telephone. They also specify the services and the price.

Paid dating is a growing industry in Hong Kong. This has given them the opportunity to be their own bosses. You won’t be subject to more gangster mediators’ sexual and physical abuse. You also earn more money by not having to pay the broker fees. Forums and chat apps have a significant impact on the power of sex workers.

Patrick Wong Chun-chin, a former Hong Kong Police Commissioner, states:

“Now, girls who arrange dates are independent. It is rare for them to be exploited by a triad member. This is not the same as before when men accompanied women. It’s rare that men in Hong Kong control prostitutes.

Wong is also co-founder of Centinel, a private security company. He believes that the decline of bustling brothel bars and karaoke venues in Hong Kong is due to iPhones. These were the places that attracted criminals, triad members and other criminies 15 years ago. This type of thing has been in decline due to the changes in the communication model.

He explained that the paid appointments were advertised cleverly in forum posts. Clients are seduced by the girls writing that they are available to make friends. They do not discuss sexual services until they have a private conversation using an instant messaging app.

Laura * continues to pursue this type dating. After realizing she could communicate directly via WhatsApp and the forum, this Macau girl quickly quit her intermediary.

Laura claims that she has a competitive advantage in Hong Kong because of her ability to reject clients. She is able to be selective with men and will only talk to calm and pleasant people. However, Hong Kong’s brothels are mainly made up of migrant prostitutes. She tells us that sex workers don’t have the luxury to choose. Laura says that these girls must do everything.

But being independent doesn’t always mean safety. While Laura has been able to avoid any violence problems, Kate was raped by a client. Lam clarifies that although the police had previously closed the forums, they were reopened a few weeks later to allow for a new one.

Pimps are still a common sight in Hong Kong, but they haven’t disappeared completely. This is mostly due to the fact that some girls, particularly the more educated ones, have trouble organizing their time. Lam says that girls who are committed to these dates and who wish to continue high school, but are also burdened with studies (in China and Hong Kong they often represent a significant burden), will seek out an intermediary agent to assist them in arranging meetings. Your services will be hired by a minority because they fear your clients might be dangerous and may need your protection.

Curiously, some girls end-up acting as intermediaries for other people. Lam said that they don’t realize it is illegal for girls to arrange dates with clients for their friends and receive a commission.

* Not real name for security reasons


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