China asks if ‘happy ending services’ are illegal

People: China opens public debate over whether paid sexual services that do not involve sexual intercourse count as crime

Written by Associated Press | Beijing | Published: June 29, 2013 1:59 am

China’s law enforcers are having an unusually public debate about a delicate topic: Do paid sexual services known as “happy endings” at massage parlours count as crimes if they don’t involve actual sexual intercourse?

While prostitution is illegal in China,its boundaries are being discussed with rare candour by courts,police and state media – even the usually stodgy flagship newspaper of the Communist Party.

“Various places have different standards for whether masturbation services are a crime; judicial interpretation urgently needed,” read a headline of the People’s Daily newspaper,which usually spends its time lecturing party members about discipline or obscure ideological issues.

The debate centres on sexual services provided by employees of usually low-end massage parlours or hair salons,advertised to customers with colorful phrases such as “hitting the airplane” and “breast massage”.

While common in Beijing and many other Chinese cities,the services became part of a conspicuous national conversation only this week,following newspaper reports about a crackdown that fizzled in southern Guangdong province.

Police in the city of Foshan arrested hair salon staff for providing sexual services,only to have prostitution charges against them overturned by a local court. A precedent apparently was set last year when the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court threw out a verdict against a group of salon staff,including three managers who had been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for “organizing prostitution”.

Now courts,police,prosecutors,lawyers and academics are being quoted discussing oral sex and other types of sexual services facilitated by body parts excluding genitals,typically taboo topics that have captured the public’s attention.

The question is whether such services can be considered prostitution if there is no intercourse.

Technically,no — at least according to the highest court in Guangdong,which says such services fall outside the legal definition of prostitution.

On its official microblog,the court pressed the legislature to clear up the matter,saying although no law bars such services,they “significantly damage social order and have a certain degree of social harm”.

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