Violence and Discrimination Against Tibetan Women

V. Convention Article 6: Prostitution

Article 6 of the Convention requires State Parties to take effective measures to suppress all forms of trafficking in women and exploitation of prostitution.

A.China's Assessment: "Under Control"

China's Report does not specifically address prostitution in Tibet. The Report states, however, that China has laws and regulations that ban trafficking in women and forced prostitution as criminal acts. China indicates that its law enforcement agencies "have stepped up their fight against women trafficking and forced prostitution in the comprehensive rectification of public order." China concludes that prostitution is "under effective control." Pointing out a decline in trafficking in women, the report claims that "some worst cases of abuse have been dealt with in a timely fashion."

B.Our Assessment: Recent Influx of Brothels and Prostitution in Tibet

We find the information provided in China's Report lacking in any concrete data to support its conclusion that trafficking in women and prostitution is under any "effective control," particularly in Tibet.

Our investigations reveal what can only be called large-scale introduction of prostitution in Tibet in recent years, which is having a devastating effect on Tibetan culture. We note that almost every person recently interviewed during the Mission reported awareness of the influx of prostitution into Tibet. Witnesses uniformly comment that the Chinese authorities implicitly condone or even sponsor the proliferation of brothels as a means to service the large numbers of Chinese military personnel stationed in Tibet as part of the occupying forces. In addition, there is evidence that condoned or supported prostitution is being instituted in areas with great cultural or religious significance for Tibetans, such as the streets immediately below the Potala Palace in Lhasa. One witness indicated that rather than the government stopping prostitution, the Chinese authorities "let loose now." A surprising number of witnesses told the Mission that prostitution was legal in Tibet. The consistency of that observation supports a finding of government condonation of prostitution.

Some witnesses indicate that the majority of prostitutes are Chinese. One witness estimated a ratio of three Tibetans for every 100 Chinese prostitutes. Another witness stated that there were separate rooms for Tibetan and Chinese prostitutes in the hotel vicinity." Many witnesses stated that prostitutes were as young as 12 and 13. Some state that women come to villages and take away young Tibetan girls who are never seen again.

One Tibetan women indicated that the harsh birth control policies against them led to family troubles and that their husbands frequented brothels as a result. Several women had fled Tibet alone with their children and left their husbands behind. One 26 year old stated:

Because of the brothels, many marriages are breaking up. Brothels are helping to destroy Tibetan culture. They are ruining the youth, who have no jobs and nothing to do but go to discos.

We note that our research into this issue is preliminary. Nonetheless, we are convinced there is a strong need for more in-depth study of trafficking of women and prostitution in Tibet.


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