China sex workers face 'harsh' detention: Rights group
BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese detention system for sex workers should be abolished, a rights group said on Tuesday, after the country's Communist authorities pledged to eliminate its notorious "re-education through labour" scheme.
"The harsh punishment China metes out to sex workers fails to eradicate or decrease the number of persons engaged in this trade, while further infringing on their human rights," New York-based rights group Asia Catalyst said in a report.
Prostitution is illegal in mainland China, but an estimated 2.7 to 6 million sex workers operate from establishments including karaoke bars, hair salons, saunas and massage parlours.
Of those millions of sex workers, as many as 28,000 are detained and held each year in nearly 200 "custody and education" centres, where campaign groups say inmates are regularly forced to do unpaid manual labour - and must pay for the privilege.