Chinese Prostitution

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Chinese Prostitution

By | April 2005
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In 1850, only 7 Chinese women were in San Francisco compared to the 4,018 Chinese men. These lows numbers could've been because Chinese men were afraid to bring their wives and raise families in a place full of racial violence. The growing anti-Chinese sentiment and few labor opportunities reduced the chances for entry of Chinese women. The few women in San Francisco's Chinatown basically turned Chinatown into a bachelor's society. Many men went to brothel houses to release their sexual tensions, thus increasing the demands and values of prostitution. Prostitution in Chinatown increased, and in 1870, 61 percent of the 3536 Chinese women in California as prostitutes (Takaki, 1998). By 1879, seventy-one percent of Chinese women in San Francisco were prostitutes. However, the increased amount of Chinese women becoming a prostitute was not by choice. Immigrant women who became prostitutes, such as Wong Ah So, came to America on promises of marriage made by men only to be forced or tricked into prostitution.

Chan's book, "Asian Americas: An Interpretive History", was able to shed some light as to why so few Chinese women were able to enter the U.S. From the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, Chinese women were only allowed to enter the U.S. as the wives and daughters of merchants or U.S. citizens. Several acts, such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the Page Law, were passed in an attempt to stop the immigration of Chinese because many anti-Chinese individuals assumed that all Chinese women were prostitutes. As Chan states in her book, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act suspended the entry of Chinese laborers for ten years but exempted merchants, students and teachers, diplomats, and travelers from its provisions (Chan, 54). Under the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, only women who were native-born, married or born overseas to merchants in the U.S. could immigrate, thus resulting in an average of 108 Chinese immigrant women in 1882. The Page Law of...

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