For people who saw the event on television, the scene was a chilling flashback from 30 years ago: Social outcasts and supposed criminals, in this case prostitutes and a few pimps, were paraded in front of a jeering crowd, their names revealed, and then taken to jail without trial.
The act of public shaming was intended as the inaugural event in a two- month campaign by the authorities in the southern city of Shenzhen to crack down on prostitution. Chinese law enforcement often works on the basis of campaigns, and for its organizers the idea of marching 100 or so prostitutes, all dressed in identical yellow smocks, before the cameras must have seemed like a clever way of launching a battle against the sex trade.
What the authorities in Shenzhen, an industrial boomtown adjacent to Hong Kong seem not to have counted on was an angry nationwide backlash against their tactics, with many people around China joining in a common cause with the prostitutes over the violation of their human rights and expressing their outrage at the incident in one online forum after another. [Full Text]
– See also CDT’s Biganzi post, “Wrong To Shame “Chickens”, Won’t Scare Monkeys- Survey.”