Zheng Huang, Founder of Leyi (via CNNGo)
Think “sex trade” and chances are male and transvestite sex workers rarely come to mind, though they’re just as physically and legally at risk as their female counterparts. To rectify this, CNNGo brings attention to Shanghai Leyi, an organization dedicated to creating a better environment for male and transvestite sex workers. They provide everything from legal training and medical services, to advice on STDs and HIV prevention and free condoms. Founded in 2004, it’s a young organization that has thankfully thrived, collaborating with UNAIDS to establish the China Sex Worker Organization Network Forum, and expanding its services to solo female sex workers working the streets, another vulnerable group paid little attention to by aid organizations.
However, Shanghai Leyi is still a small group, essentially an office run by five employees. Perhaps their small-scale operations are why they have never been shut down — as founder Zheng Huang tells CNNGo, ““We’re still operating after all these years. The police have never come knocking. That’s the biggest vote of support.” Let’s hope this support continues as they gain increasing influence in speaking out for the sex workers most in need.
Read more about prostitution in China here.