Chinese women forced into Paris prostitution says aid group

Hundreds of Chinese women have left their children behind in the hope of finding work in Paris, only to end up turning to street prostitution, a humanitarian group has said .

A report by Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) said the women, mostly in their forties and sharing small rooms, are often victims of rape and violence, and are highly exposed to sexually-transmitted disease.

The group runs a mobile clinic in immigrant districts in the French capital to reach out to the 500 women, many of whom are from China’s northeastern Dongbei region which has been hard-hit by unemployment.

Their situation is alarming, said Melanie Quetier, who works at the clinic known as the Lotus bus which opened in 2002.

“They have neglected their health for a long time and many discover too late that they are suffering from diabetes, cancer or heart trouble,” she said.

Women go to the agency’s Lotus Bus for condoms but the Chinese-speaking staff tries to convince them to go for testing for sexually-transmitted diseases or consult a gynecologist.

A survey of 93 women by the Lotus Bus team found that many had paid between 7,000 and 15,000 euros (9,000 to 19,000 dollars) to travel to France after losing their jobs in China.

More than 65 percent of them are over forty and 90 percent said they had left at least one child in China.

“These vulnerable women who do not speak French come up against non-Chinese customers who think they can do anything to them,” said Quetier.

The Chinese women are considered “cheap prostitutes”, charging as little as five euros for sex, she said.

More than a third of the women questioned said they had been treated for a sexually-transmitted disease and 45 percent said they had not been tested for HIV, according to the report.

Housing is a problem for them, with many banding together to rent out small rooms for between 100 and 150 euros a month.

Now in her fifties, Yanyan arrived two years ago in Paris after losing her job in a textile factory and found work as a nanny in a Chinese immigrant family that exploited her.

To earn extra money, she turned to prostitution a year ago in the streets in the Belleville district of Paris, with its lively East Asian quarter.

“Fortunately, my family doesn’t know about this,” said Yanyan, who has since divorced her Chinese husband and hopes to marry in France.

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