Risky busi­ness for Hong Kong sex work­ers after killings

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE killing of two young In­done­sian women by Bri­tish banker Rurik Jut­ting sent chills through Hong Kong’s sex worker com­mu­nity – but two years on, many say harsh eco­nomic re­al­i­ties leave them with no choice but to take the same risks.

Renowned as a safe city, Hong Kong was shocked to its core by the bloody mur­ders of Su­marti Ningsih and Se­neng Mu­ji­asih, both in their 20s, who were found dead in Jut­ting’s flat on Novem­ber 1, 2014.

He was found guilty of two charges of mur­der on Novem­ber 8 and jailed for life.

The highly paid se­cu­ri­ties trader lived in a lux­ury apart­ment in the fash­ion­able neigh­bour­hood of Wan­chai – but it was just streets away from a neon-lit red light dis­trict, lined with strip joints, dance clubs and ex­pat pubs.

Mr Jut­ting picked up Ms Mu­ji­asih in one of those bars. Ms Ningsih was also a reg­u­lar on the strip.

Many Wan­chai sex work­ers come from In­done­sia and the Philip­pines – some, like Ms Mu­ji­asih, have en­tered the city on do­mes­tic helper visas. Oth­ers fly in as tourists to make quick cash.

Pros­ti­tu­tion in Hong Kong is le­gal but al­most ev­ery­thing as­so­ci­ated with it – such as so­lic­it­ing sex or run­ning a brothel – re­mains banned.

In­side Wan­chai’s all-night dis­cos the line be­tween le­gal and il­le­gal en­ter­tain­ment is blurred.

Rev­ellers gy­rate to thump­ing dance tracks, and groups of heav­ily made-up women in tight tops and short skirts eye new­com­ers.

On a busy Sun­day night in a base­ment bar, one sin­gle mother said she spent her days as a do­mes­tic helper and her nights as a sex worker.

She re­mem­bered Ms Ningsih from see­ing her in lo­cal clubs and was shaken by her death, but said she needed the ex­tra work to sup­port her daugh­ter in the Philip­pines.

She said one night at a ho­tel with a client can mean HK$1500 (US$193) – a huge sum to women who earn the min­i­mum monthly wage for do­mes­tic helpers of just HK$4310.

Ms Ningsih had come on a vis­i­tor visa and had met Mr Jut­ting on­line. She had a young son in In­done­sia and was from a poor farm­ing fam­ily.

After hear­ing of her death, her griev­ing par­ents told AFP they thought she had been work­ing in a restau­rant. She was send­ing $250 back to her fam­ily each month.

Vi­o­lent crime against sex work­ers ap­pears to be rel­a­tively low, with sta­tis­tics show­ing there were just 20 reported cases in 2015, com­pared with 10 in 2014 and 27 in 2013.

But sup­port groups say the fig­ures are mis­lead­ing as women like Ms Ningsih and Ms Mu­ji­asih are un­likely to go to po­lice if they are at­tacked. –

Photo: AFP

The scene outside a bar in the Wan­chai dis­trict of Hong Kong.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.