An Italian photographer spent two months in China investigating a thriving prostitution industry where Burmese women are forced by gangs to entertain rich businessmen
Despite the Chinese government’s supposedly aggressive crackdown on the “flesh” trade, prostitution has continued to proliferate in the country by simply hiding in plain sight. In many cases, the brothels often take the guise of karaoke bars, massage parlors, spas, and nightclubs.
Offering a candid look inside prostitution houses in the southern part of China, photographer Paolo Marchetti used his camera lenses to expose China’s seedy underworld.
In the photos, Marchetti reveals what goes on inside the prostitution dens which continue to feed a demand for many rich Chinese businessmen. Many of these wealthy patrons have made going to brothels a ritual, where male co-workers and business partners spend hours with mostly under-aged women.
Marchetti told Nextshark that he was able to capture the behind-the-scenes activities while working in the districts of brothels in Ruili, Yunnan Province for two months. He was able to take the insightful photos undercover with the help of locals.
“I had to wait a lot of days without taking photographs,” he said. “It was a very slow process, and mostly I made my photos without asking permission but trying to figure out when it was possible and when it was better not to pull my camera out of my backpack for all night.”
The town of Ruili, which lies closest to the border of Burma, has become a popular destination for the rich businessmen to get “entertained.”
With the help of his personal fixer, he was able to learn the stories of the women. During his investigation, he met Burmese women, aged 16-24, who were promised jobs but were forced by Chinese gangs into prostitution in nightclubs or massage centers.
While some of these women were forced to marry Chinese bachelors, most of them are tasked to entertain customers by talking, singing, flirting and performing sexual acts.
According to China Daily (via The Sun), the number of prostitutes in the country had reached 10 million, between 2000 and 2010. A great number of these are foreigners who, in their attempt to escape poverty and harsh conditions in their homeland, have fallen victim to sex exploitation under the hands of Chinese gangs.