China will reportedly end a punishment system for sex workers and their clients which allowed police officials to imprison them at centres where they were forced to work and make toys and household goods. According to international media reports, the punishment of detention was up to two years at the so-called education centres, however, the system will come to an end on December 29 and those in custody will be released. China banned prostitution after the Communist revolution in 1949 and since then it remained illegal and carried a punishment of up to 15 days in detention and fines up to £546.
According to a local Chinese media outlet, the 'custody and education' system helped the nation to maintain a 'good social atmosphere and public order' since it was introduced more than 20 years ago, however, they further added, that over time the system has become less appropriate. The instruction to abolish the system reportedly came from the cabinet and the parliament as China seeks to promote a more law-based society. Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch also called on China to end its 'custody and education' system for sex workers as many detainees reportedly claimed that they were unable to learn new skills during the detention that could help them after their release.
According to a report, it was found that many sex workers were also beaten by police in an attempt to coerce confessions. One worker reportedly also claimed that she had been deceived into signing a confession. The rights of sex workers had also become a hot topic around the world as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had expressed openness and decriminalizing sex work in the United States.
Back in 2013, China also abolished its system of 're-education through labour camps' for petty criminals after several high-profile miscarriages of justice, including a case where a mother was reportedly sent to a labour camp after demanding justice for her daughter who had been raped. According to international media reports, China is not, however, totally abandoning the idea of re-education. Authorities in the country reportedly said that a number of camps in the north-west region are voluntary education camps that help fight extremism.