The life imprisonment of the “girl butcher” might have halted the case against “compensated dating” in Hong Kong for a while, but what have Hong Kong people learned from the incident?
It all started with the conviction of a 17-year-old girl for soliciting compensated dating online. In Hong Kong, it is deemed immoral and also a criminal offense. After that came the detailed reports on the barbaric, but enjoyed by most local readership, murder of the 16-year-old Kiki Wong in major Hong Kong newspapers.
Wong King Tin, a columnist called on the media and local government to use the “right” word when describing compensated dating here:
Facebook never runs out of groups echoing this kind of voices from the “moral high ground”. This “援交==賣淫 (正名行動) Compensated Dating==harlotry” group currently has 181 members. In the group description, they wrote:
Harlotry=being a whore
Young people involved, don't be confused by the beautified substitutes!
Although nothing much meaningful has been said in this group “反援交少女 Against compensated dating girls“, 171 people joined, maybe merely for the name and the groundless rant and rave.
Sadly, I found only one 42 members Hong Kong group in Facebook which holds a more rational alternative view. “支持援交女無罪聯盟 Alliance supporting the decriminalisation of compensated dating” thinks that the high profile arrest of these young girls by undercover police operation is not fair. They think that help should be offered to these young girls, instead of arrest and conviction.
After all the reports, arrests, conviction, and imprisonment, only one conclusion is drawn by the majority of Hong Kong people: that our kids have problems and they should be condemned so that they won't do immoral things.
Darkman might have put it rightly, that we have this moral panic in the city these days:
The Libertines Pub, Hong Kong think otherwise. I wrote clearly in this entry that one needs to prove with reason that prostitution, which compensated dating falls under its category, is immoral, before one can morally condemn such act. I indeed think that condemning compensated dating itself is immoral, because it marginalises the young people involved. I wrote:
The reason why we should not call sex workers “whores” instead of “sex workers” is that by calling them “whores”, we make everyone believes that they're lower lives; we marginalise them.
It might be a bit hard to understand, especially when you have a strong but unfounded belief that prostitution is immoral, but an analogy might help.
Imagine you're now in 1980s, you're a patient who needs regular blood transfusion. Misery likes company, you got infected with HIV. At the time, it's a popular belief that you could only be gay to have aids. And being homosexual was taken to be immoral. You don't want to even show up in the hospital for your aids treatment, because you know people around will call you “faggot” and condemn you for your “sin”. You end up dying one month after your infection at home alone.
That is the harm marginalisation brings. Similarly, because those young people in compensated dating know that you “adults” would condemn their acts, they go deeper underground. Those who wanted to help them can never find them anymore.
I know where these condemnations are coming from. Some of you don't want your kids to live in a future world where compensated dating became an extra-curricular activity, that's why you want to condemn it and hope that it will be killed and cleaned.
I am quite sure that the recent hype on compensated dating is a deviancy amplification spiral; compensated dating won't become an extra-curricular activity. Moreover, prostitution of any sort will always be there. There is always a possibility of your children getting involved, face it!
Condemning it with pejoratives will only make it harder for us to help these young people, possibly any of your kids, in the future.
So, what have we learned here?