Monday, August 06, 2012

Mapping out a city: the sex workers - Tricia Wang

Tricia Wang
Sociologist Tricia Wang describes on her weblog how she sets up her field work in China. Through good contacts with taxi drivers she explores the basic features of a city: who is paying where and what for sex?

Tricia Wang:
One of the ways I map the city is to quickly figure out where people go to pay for sex and have sex.  In China, the sex worker industry encompasses all economic levels. It's a bit complex to figure out which hotels and karoke bars are for high-end clients to which ones are for every day citizens. 
There are several levels where people pay for sex in most first to second tier Chinese cities:
  1. super high end brothel (10,000RMB and up)
  2. the mayor's brothel ( based off of conversations I estimate it to be around several thousand RMB)
  3. the policeman's brothel ( based off of conversations I estimate it  to be around 200-1000RMB)
  4. the business person's (200-1000RMB)
  5. the citizen's brothels (5-100RMB)
  6. street walkers who charge aound 20-50RMB - client pays for hotel
When the police do sweeps and arrest sex workers, only those who work in what I call the "citizen's brothels" get arrested. Street walkers can be easily arrested anytime and they are the most vulnerable because most of the time they don't work with the protection of an overseer. 
All the other brothels pay off the police or some other department to protect themselves. The police only go to the police-protected brothels and of course the mayor's brothel is only accessible to higher up government officials. The super high end brothels are accessible for anyone who has money. Here are some fieldnotes from one of my earlier attempts to map out sex in Wuhan last year around October.
More in Tricia Wang's weblog.

Tricia Wang is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

More about Tricia Wang, exploring China's underbelly in Storify.
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