Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Prostitution in China - KTV Story (Part 1)

Rong Ying was the prettiest girl in Wanshan, a tiny, impoverished village, in a northern province of China.

Like so many girls in Wanshan, as soon as she turned eighteen she bought a third class train ticket to Guangdong Province, in the south of China, to search for work. Many from her village who’d gone down there had made enough to live well and also send money home to their families.

Upon arrival, Ying’s cousin, who’d gone south to Guangdong seven years prior, let Ying stay over at the cramped eighth floor one bedroom walk-up she shared with her husband, her husband’s mother, and the baby girl they didn’t have.

After a couple weeks of job hunting, Ying found work in a factory in Dongguan assembling iPhones. There she worked twelve hour shifts, with only two twenty minute breaks. All additional breaks, including toilet breaks, were timed to the second. Anyone on break too often or for too long was terminated.

Ying lived at the factory in a dorm room with five other girls. They slept in bunk beds wrapped in mosquito netting, washed their clothes by hand, and had an 11PM curfew every night of the week. At 11:30PM the factory shut off all the dorm rooms’ electricity until morning.

At the factory Ying met another pretty girl named Qwai Di. Di spoke of how her friend was working at a KTV (karaoke bar) and making ten times what the two of them made per month at the factory.

But what exactly did the work involve? Ying queried, as she and Di stabbed chopsticks into plates of spicy noodles during break.

Di said they’d provide company and drink with the KTV’s male customers, and every so often the men, usually businessmen in their 30’s and 40’s, would tip them extra for favors, Di said, hesitantly but not ashamedly.

Ying knew what this meant. She wasn’t completely na├»ve. She also wasn’t a virgin, having had sex with her high school boyfriend, which was part of the reason she’d left her hometown.

(The two of them had discussed marriage, but after they’d had sex, he’d quickly broken it off with her, saying that he couldn’t be with someone who’d have sex before marriage. Heartbroken, and having lost her precious commodity of virginity, she’d decided to go south for work.)

Looking down at the callouses and blisters blotting her once soft hands, and thinking of their floor boss, that fat little middle aged woman with the terrible acne who screamed in Cantonese at all the workers, especially the pretty girls, but mostly thinking of the money she could send to her family, Ying made a snap decision…

She decided to join Di on their day off and apply for a job at the KTV.

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