Local police in Shenzhen have come under fire from both the
public and legal authorities after parading a group of prostitutes
and their clients up and down a crowded street.
However, an anonymous police official was quoted by the
Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express as saying no laws
had been broken with the controversial move.
"Only the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
has the right to respond in connection with the concerned legal
clauses," the officer was quoted as saying.
The spokesman of the Shenzhen Police Bureau told China
Daily yesterday that an official response would soon be
Shenzhen's municipal government declined to provide a formal
"The police have submitted materials to the government, but we
have no comment now," said a government spokesman.
The controversy began last Wednesday when Shenzhen police
arrested 100 prostitutes, pimps and their clients, including at
least 10 Hong Kong residents, during an anti-vice bust. The
officers dressed the suspects in bright yellow T-shirts and masks
before parading them through on the streets.
Police also read their names, ages and places of origin out to a
1000-strong crowd, who applauded the move.
Despite any instant popularity the move may have generated,
wide-spread media coverage has triggered a public uproar over
whether the privacy and human rights of those arrested had been
Shanghai lawyer Yao Jianguo published a petition to the Standing
Committee of the National People's Congress on an Internet forum on
Sunday, claiming the action was illegal and would negatively affect
the reputation of the Chinese government within the international
In his petition, Yao stated the suspects could be punished only
after being judged guilty in a court of law, noting that none of
the arrested people had yet been sent to court.
About 70 percent of the 150,000 people who responded to a survey
on sina.com said they opposed the actions taken by Shenzhen police.
"These people may have done something wrong, but their dignity
should have been preserved," said one netizen.
Some local citizens said they doubted that the parade was
necessary. "The police were staging a show. They should find ways
to root out the illegal sex industry instead of spending their time
parading prostitutes," said Zheng Yan, an employee of an
However, residents from the neighborhoods near where the raid
took place said they supported the police.
"This is the only way these cheeky prostitutes and their clients
will learn. People from outside the neighborhood can not imagine
how the quality of our lives has deteriorated because of these
nuisances," said Cao, a recent graduate who rents an apartment in
(China Daily December 7, 2006)