A photographer spent seven years capturing portraits of women across China who turned to the sex work industry to support themselves and their families. Although the women’s faces are never shown, viewers are able to attach an identity to China’s “lost women” and, in turn, understand their plights through a more intimate lens.
In China, prostitution is banned, although it will always persist. Women work for very little, and are exposed to greater health and safety risks, as well as abuse by police. The woman above is from Fujian and goes by the name Xiao Min. She left the sex work industry in 2013, after she married and set up a silk business in Hangzhou.
Many of the woman turn to this livelihood as a last resort before falling into complete poverty. The photographer, named Li Qin, mostly captured the women at ease in their rooms at home.
A woman from Sichuan province. She has a son and a daughter, but was running away from her husband because of domestic violence problems.
A woman from Fujian province. Although she has the photographer’s phone number she hasn’t contacted him since.
This woman was just 18 years old when she entered the profession with her sisters. Her dream is to become an actress, and she once worked as an extra in Shanghai.
A woman in Nanjing known as Xiao Cai.
by Dan Cunningham
[Images via Sina]