According to the state-run media, the Ministry of Public Security has ordered the police to stop parading suspects in public and has called on local departments to enforce laws in a “rational, calm and civilized manner.”
The new regulations are thought to be a response to the public outcry over a recent spate of “shame parades,” in which those suspected of being prostitutes are shackled and forced to walk in public.
Last October, the police in Henan Province took to the Internet, posting photographs of women suspected of being prostitutes. Other cities have been publishing the names and addresses of convicted sex workers and those of their clients. The most widely circulated images, taken this month in the southern city of Dongguan, included young women roped together and paraded barefoot through crowded city streets.
The police later said they were not punishing the women, only seeking their help in the pursuit of an investigation.
The public response, at least on the Internet, has tended toward outrage, with many postings expressing sympathy for the women. “Why aren’t corrupt officials dragged through the streets?” read one posting. “These women are only trying to feed themselves.”