Living in China, it would seem, gives one an unfettered glimpse at a society on the verge of moral collapse.
Each day, while thumbing through the newspapers or surfing the net, one can see the values of the ancient Chinese society being shredded by the lure of the modern, the different.
There are numerous examples of this inhumanity, such as toxins purposefully added to food, corrupt officials abusing human rights, land taken illegally, the killing of accident victims – all done in the name of making or saving money.
In this multi-part series, I will attempt to dissect China’s moral crisis that seems to threaten its legitimacy, if not its very existence.
They Don’t Laugh at Prostitutes
“They laugh at poor people, but they don’t laugh at prostitutes,” Mao, a Chinese villager from Changhzou quipped when asked why he had made sex workers out of his two nieces and his only daughter.
He said that in his village, poverty was looked upon with scorn. Fearing the embarrassment of being a poor man, he started a massage parlor/brothel.
The man, along with his wife, forced their 16 year old daughter and two nieces into prostitution. They tried to justify their actions by saying that in the beginning they had no intention of turning their daughter into a prostitute, but only their nieces who had their parents permission to work as hookers.
The Ma’s said that as their clientele grew, the customers started to notice their young daughter, who was still a virgin.
For this type of business, a virgin means more interest from clients and an increase in profit. Due to her innocent looks and her size, their daughter represented a cash crop, a virgin for sale.
The Mao family quickly capitalized on the sale of her virginity. After realizing the economic potential of selling their daughter as ‘pure’, they then, with the aid of devices such as a fake hymen, continued to sell her as a ‘virgin’.
Prostitution to Climb the Social Ladder
In a country where money worship seems to have superseded morality, the girl’s parents stated that not only would they not be ridiculed for being poor anymore, but they were giving a gift of sorts to the young women they employed.
The parents stated that by selling their bodies to unknown men, the women would earn enough money to return to their hometown one day. They would even have enough of a nest egg to purchase a house.
After reading this, one has to sit back and take stock of what type of society foments such a disregard for humanity, for the life of a child, and for human rights.
One has to shake their head and wonder just how far mankind has strayed, that this type of behavior becomes acceptable – a necessary evil.
Although hard numbers are difficult to come by, the number of brothels in Chinese cities is astounding. Their numbers are a testament to the ‘tolerance’ at a minimum, if not the outright support of the powers that be in China.
While often disguised as ‘legitimate’ businesses, Chinese brothels usually come in at least one of three forms; ‘barber shops’, ‘massage parlors’, and KTV’s (descriptions below).
As a testament to the prevalence of such places in China is that while I reside in a rather upscale area of Beijing, within a half mile radius there are four hard-core brothels and four ‘massage houses’. Estimates of sex workers in China range from 3 million to 20 million, and anyone who has traveled here can not refute their obvious presence.
Why the Moral Decline in China?
Many have attempted to explain the reasons for the moral decline in China and this sort of prevalent abhorrent behavior.
Typical reasons offered are everything from the influence of the Communist party, the lack of the belief in a higher power and a product of a misogynistic culture. Others discuss ‘Asian values’ and the role they may play in the discussion.
The Communist party, it has been said, stamped out any semblance of morality with their strike-hard campaigns when they assumed power 61 years ago. Perhaps it’s influence came to a head in the chaotic ‘Cultural Revolution’, where Buddhist shrines were burnt, religion in any form not tolerated and children were turned against their own parents.
The thinking is that growing up in this environment had left a generation of emotionally damaged people with no appreciation for the nuance of civility.
Others argue that since China is a patrilineal society and has been so for thousands of years, women in China have historically been second class citizens. For in such societies, female children were often killed as they had little value to the family. They could not carry on the family name, nor could they present money to the ghosts of their parents when dead.
The logic continues that infanticide, especially of unwanted daughters, was not an infrequent event. Thus, what would be the harm of putting the girl to work, especially when one considered the alternative.
The Asian Values theory says that the collective is more important than the individual, and until the collective gains enough affluence, then individual rights may be subsumed.
While it does not condone such acts outright, “Asian Values” is a point of view that when considering developing countries throughout Asia, one must view these countries and cultures through a different light. Modern behaviors need to be examined from this historic perspective.
Next Week: Understanding Modern Chinese Immorality
Image Credit: PBS.orgOriginally published on TopSecretWriters.com