On August 25, 2013, authorities confirmed that well-known angel investor and social media celebrity Charles Xue had been detained on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute, after police raided his home based on a tip-off from a neighbor. While some speculated that the arrest was part of a crackdown on outspoken microbloggers—Xue is a well-known social commentator on Weibo—few spoke of the consequences for the woman surnamed Zhang who was arrested for prostitution in the same raid.
Sex workers in China face many challenges to making their voices heard. Because of widespread legal and societal discrimination and stigma, sex workers are also particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses. As the rate of prostitution in China has increased yearly since 1982, the problems and dangers sex workers face are becoming an increasingly pressing societal problem.
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Thanks to China’s one-child policy and a preference for male babies, men exceed women in China by tens of millions. Owing to this inequality, numerous men aren’t able to find women to marry. This has not only led to an increase in the human trafficking of women, but also to an increase in the number of prostitutes and the number of men who seek them out for their services. In one survey, 1 in 5 sexually-active men admitted to having paid for sex with a prostitute.