night is rounding down and my friend downs the rest of his beer,
takes a slow look around the emptying club and announces:
gonna get me a xiaojie!" (little sister/one-night lover)
whispers and chuckles the finer points of xiaojie hunting
to me as we exit the club along with similarly conspiring well-dressed
men. As we wait for the cab and smoke our last cigarettes I inquire
as to the hazards of xiaojie hunting and the precautions
one must take.
girls are clean," he tells me. "There is no need to worry."
mention the "harmless" diseases that a person could catch … he scoffs.
I mention pregnancy and all the woes that could come of it … he
scoffs – abortions are cheap. I finally bring up the Big One: AIDS.
druggies and foreigners have AIDS in China."
he disappears with a lazy wave and an anticipatory grin. According
to the UN's latest assessment of the AIDS situation on the Mainland,
there must be many like him. Men who have wives and girlfriends
and regularly visit the brothels for cheap, quick anonymous fun.
The sex business is flourishing as never before in a newly rich
China: peasants from the countryside frequent the pink halls on
the corners of most city streets, the university students slip in
and out of inconspicuous apartments and the backdoors of small bars
and the big whigs get a private room, a fancy apartment, whatever
the case may be.
girls who used to shuck corn or make leather shoes or drip sweat
onto microchips now giggle their way to the bank wearing designer
fashions and glittering jewels. The best of them will be put up
by a sugardaddy …. They've never lived so good. But it is not just
poor country girls. University students with broke parents are finding
that a sugar daddy can put them through college, dress them up real
nice and maybe even bring them to a fancy ball.
there is absolutely nothing wrong with this picture. Except for
the fact that condoms are used about as regularly as forks and knives
Education does not exist in China
and if the government doesn't act quick with the 14 million the
NIH promised them, it will be a long time before any Chinese youngster
knows A) what a condom is and B) how to put one on. Attempts by
well meaning foreign teachers can be met with cautious interest
or outright hostility. But if the Chinese government were to institute
sex education by decree, you can bet your bottom dollar that the
whole nation would swing in line. Today's kids are more exposed
and less inhibited than their parents or grandparents and also much
more likely to have multiple partners. A whole generation of young
Chinese may be at risk if they learn nothing about real life in
the schools they attend most of the waking hours.
it's also not just the brothels: many college girls (the numbers
are as nebulous as those from the UN report – talking about sex
is refined to same sex dorm-rooms and safe anonymous chat rooms)
have an abortion story to tell. Abortion clinics pop up ON THE SIDE
OF THE STREET next to the dentist, across the street from the brothel
and upstairs from the STD treatment center.
you walk the streets of any major city, sex shops carrying toys
and tetracycline are a dime a dozen. Perhaps the shop won't have
the toys, but a vast array of anti-viral drugs is available. The
clerks even grin knowingly if a typical "I have an STD" purchase
UN report mentions drug users and blood banks as the two major causes
for the rising AIDS epidemic the sex trade as an emerging source.
The peasants who were infected in Henan
made the pages of every newspaper in the West and therefore the
blood-banks are mentioned in any report. The Chinese government
would have you believe that drug users and assorted riff raff are
responsible. But the ratio of HIV positive men to women has been
shrinking in the last 20 years from 9:1 to 4:1. Either women weren't
doing drugs/receiving as much blood in the past or ….
in the US
the traditions have remained strong, and therefore also the wall
surrounding knowledge of sex: immigration brings certain perils,
notes Pastor Chen of a Chinese
in Minnesota, such
as the erosion of traditional Chinese values. Such as the class
on how to use a condom at the local high school.
Chinese leadership must realize that pushing the blame onto "criminals
and drug users" is helping no one, least of all those who have already
contracted HIV. Ostracized and shunned, these young Chinese are
just beginning to find their voice. Perhaps this international slight
(which always seems to move the ponderous CCP) will galvanize the
needs to understand the perils of open doors and open markets and
the revolution of Chinese society that will result.