Local police have come under strong criticism from the public
and lawyers 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 the police
had not broken any laws 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 the bureau would soon release an official
response to the incident.
The municipal government of this southern city declined to
provide a formal response. "The police have submitted materials to
the government, but we have no comment now," said a government
The controversy started last Wednesday when Shenzhen police
arrested 100 prostitutes, pimps and their clients, including at
least 10 Hong Kong residents, during an anti-vice raid. The
officers dressed the alleged offenders in bright yellow T-shirts
and masks and paraded them on the streets.
Police also read their names, ages and places of origin out to
the public. The parade attracted more than 1,000 spectators, who
However, wide media coverage of the incident sparked widespread
public concern over whether the police had violated the privacy and
human rights of the people they had arrested.
Shanghai lawyer Yao Jianguo published a petition to the Standing
Committee of 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 said the suspects could be punished only
after being judged guilty in court. He noted that the arrested
people had not 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 reserved," 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 a recent graduate surnamed Cao who rents an
apartment in the area.
(China Daily December 7, 2006)