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China asks if 'happy ending' services are illegal

By Gillian Wong

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:47 a.m. HST, Jun 28, 2013

BEIJING » China's law enforcers are having an unusually public debate about a delicate topic: Do paid sexual services known as "happy endings" at massage parlors count as crimes if they don't involve actual sexual intercourse?

While prostitution is illegal in China, its boundaries are being discussed with rare candor 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 centers on sexual services provided by employees of usually low-end massage parlors 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 province, 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 that although no law bars such services, they "significantly damage social order and have a certain degree of social harm."

The high court in eastern Zhejiang reportedly concurs that if there is no intercourse, there's no prostitution, but police in the capital Beijing, southern Guiyang and elsewhere disagree. The discrepancy in views is unusual in a society where police, prosecutors and courts are often seen as working in lock-step with one another.

The debate also highlights how much more open urban Chinese have become in their attitudes toward sex, as prosperity rises and government controls on personal freedoms ease. Attitudes remain more traditional in the countryside.

Sociologist and sex expert Li Yinhe said the debate showed the country has come a long way since two decades ago, when displays of public affection and even dancing with members of the opposite sex could be punished.

"The whole social atmosphere has changed. Even in the 1980s the crackdowns were very strong, very severe," Li said. "... In the past, organizing prostitution used to be punishable by death."

She took in the unexpected court verdict with mock horror, saying, "This is simply too subversive."

Associated Press researcher Flora Ji contributed to this report.

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palani wrote:
"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." – Bill Clinton
on June 28,2013 | 05:10AM
bender wrote:
Maybe this is why Snowden went to Hong Kong.
on June 28,2013 | 06:01AM
mikethenovice wrote:
bang coc k
on June 28,2013 | 07:34AM
Ripoff wrote:
on June 28,2013 | 08:32AM
allie wrote:
yikes. It seems harmless enough. I hear a lot of this goes on in Honolulu. I am ok with it. It is the least of our problems.
on June 28,2013 | 08:05AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Allie likes happy endings. Mandan style.
on June 28,2013 | 11:34AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
It is not o.k. if it breaks up long standing families.. and yes it goes on and yes it goes on even in Hawaii Hall!
on June 28,2013 | 03:40PM
Sid_Hartha wrote:
Hand jobs = social disorder? I apologize for all the harm I done when I was a teen.
on June 28,2013 | 06:20AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Are all the so called massage places in Century Center happy endings parlors?
on June 28,2013 | 06:53AM
false wrote:
Some happier than others.
on June 28,2013 | 08:45AM
loquaciousone wrote:
It's a dirty job but someone has to do it. I volunteer to go "undercover".
on June 28,2013 | 07:25AM
Mythman wrote:
yes go undercover to do handiwork
on June 28,2013 | 07:34AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Time to wear a raincoat.
on June 28,2013 | 07:34AM
false wrote:
Raincoat for a happy ending? That's lame...
on June 28,2013 | 08:45AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
How about a paper bag?!
on June 28,2013 | 03:43PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
We need to send Allie, undercover to Hawaii Hall and see what she can get away with. Maybe she can claim to be one of Rusell Banks' many illeg daughters! that'll attract immediate attention.. All she has to say is that she is tutored in the arts and is from South Dakota.. or is it North?
on June 28,2013 | 03:42PM
mikethenovice wrote:
Hard to prove what went on if the evidence is swallowed.
on June 28,2013 | 07:34AM
Ripoff wrote:
on June 28,2013 | 08:37AM
mikethenovice wrote:
If these parlors are banned, then this practice will have to be done in the backseat of a car. Spread the tarp out.
on June 28,2013 | 07:36AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
It is already.. backseat of Silver Mercedeses on the Manoa campus.. nothing new there!
on June 28,2013 | 03:44PM
stanmanley wrote:
Happy Endings? I call it stress relief.
on June 28,2013 | 07:46AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Doesn't that make you happy?
on June 28,2013 | 08:33AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Allie likes happy endings. Mandan style.
on June 28,2013 | 11:17AM
Anonymous wrote:
Someone mentioned Century Plaza so I will drop Eaton Square for Max's Gym. We crack down on prostitution because it promotes the abuse of women and children. But we allow this "gym" which is actually a bath house that has the reputation of being the meeting place for casual sex. We don't allow prostitution houses but Max's Gym makes money by providing a place where anonymous sex can take place. This place should be shut down because it is a ticking time bomb for another epidemic.
on June 28,2013 | 03:08PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
This is what I've been talking about all along.. all those Chinese women who come here, even as professionals are well trained in all these tactics!
on June 28,2013 | 03:39PM
tiki886 wrote:
I thought this was about end of life hospice care.
on June 28,2013 | 03:47PM
Anonymous wrote:
I bet all these ladies call their customers "hon".
on June 28,2013 | 05:42PM
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