From China News Weekly:
Enjo-kōsai (援助交际) shortened form enkō (援交) means "compensated dating" and is a practice which originated in Japan where older men give money and/or luxury gifts to attractive women for their companionship and, possibly, for sexual favors. The female participants range from primarily school-aged girls to housewives.
In 2006, Japanese freelance writer Nakayama Miri wrote in her autobiography My Notes on Compensated Dating at Age Sixteen, “in Tokyo downtown shopping district, I was driving a remarkable red sports car, living in high-end luxury homes. Open the door, a very soft and spacious bed, rolling in the ecstatic bed sheets… but now there is not a trace, leaving only a memory, quietly floating in the air.”
This is a compensated dating girl remembering her painful past; she would like to tell the future generations, the past that remained in her heart, will ferment slowly in the future, until it is too late to repent.
Her words did not alert the world.
The first week of November 2011, Shanghai prosecutors disclosed a case which involved more than 20 middle/high school girls in compensated dating. In this case, most of the female students are under 18, the youngest is less than 14 years of age. This case caused public uproar which rippled through the entire country; however the topic of compensated dating still appeared to be ambiguous in Shanghai.
There are dozens of schools scattered in Shanghai Hongkou District, various brand of motel chain also operated in this business circle. Schools, hotels and various “love business” chain intertwine here.
In the news on November 7, Motel 168 near Guangling Road became the headline picture. In the news 20 neotenous female high school students, in order to have more spending money, but also don’t want to earn it through work, went into the hotel chain and became prostitutes, two of them were under 14 years of age.
Public information revealed on November 5th by Shanghai Zhabei Procuratorate said, these more than 20 compensated dating girls had complex relations with each other, most of them are students in school, involved in 9 Shanghai vocational schools and high schools.
According to reports, when Xiaowen, Pingping and Nana started engaging in prostitution, they were all under 18. Xiaowen and Nana are childhood friends. Due to family misfortune, Nana dropped out of the school and had been wandering in the streets. Pingping and Xiaowen are classmates. Since 2009, they communicated through the Internet and telephone etc.. introduced each other or introduced other young girls to have sex with clients, and also collected service fees and referrals fees.
Shanghai Zhabei Procuratorate published a signed article in the local media, said these female high school students “organized prostitution, referred clients and formed a fixed circle, kind of like the so-called Enjo-kōsai in the Japanese society.”
After this statement, a Shanghai judicial system official complained to China News Weekly, what is compensated dating, it is clearly putting underage girls into prostitution. And the laws in our country do not have this word “compensated dating”. To this, another judicial system official said to China News Weekly how this case was disclosed was against common sense. “During the criminal investigation process, Public Security once wanted to reveal the case to the public, but considering this case was not so complicated and also the matter of projecting minors, they just handed case over to the Procuratorate. However the Procuratorate disclosed the case to the public and also labeled it compensated dating, which caused widespread of public attention, we could not explain, even the prosecutors are silent now.”
Once labeled, common people and the law professionals all raised eyebrows, began to speculate how the case will be tried. However, according to China News Weekly, the court had already come to a verdict before it went public. November 10, Zhabei District Court office staff on the phone told China News Weekly, the compensated dating girl case already had a verdict, but what kind of sentencing and punishments are not be disclosed because the case involved, after all, many minors. “The principle of the court had told us not to disclose the specifics to the media.”
The above message explained to some extent, why there are no more follow up coverage once the case went public.
Behind the prostitution initiative
“In order to make spending money, many girls initiated prostitution, referred prostitution and clients, also formed fixed circle, kind of like the so-called Enjo-kōsai in the Japanese society.” Zhabei District Procuratorate prosecutor handling the case told the local media, and described the case as "compensated dating."
Chief juvenile criminal prosecution Han Konglin said, these girls do not have a sense of shame towards money and sex trades. Some of the girls come from well-off families, they sell their youth simply because of vanity, love for shopping, pleasure and lack of spending money in hand.
According to investigation, these underage girls are Shanghai locals, from well-off families, but out of greed for money, they take the initiative to look for clients once low on cash.
Han Konglin said children involving in compensated dating “reflects on the absence of social and moral education by the family and school.” “Lack of communication between guardians and their children, too spoiled or too much abuse lead to failure in family education, so that minors walk the wrong path under unhealthy influences in the society.”
According to China News Weekly, among these students, one’s parents are divorced, one was adopted, three said their parents often abuse or overly spoil them. In late 2007, in a widely circulated forum post about Shanghai middle school prostitution, one netizen wrote enviously, “There is a woman started prostitution when she was 17, seven years later, she is now 24, do you know how much money she made? 2.4 million!”
This trend is still here today.
In this compensated dating case, when the prosecutor asked about Xiaowen’s family, Xiaowen said her parents are employees of state-owned enterprises, though not very rich but with a stable income. She also had fixed monthly allowance. But she thought, the money came too slowly, plus her poor academic performance, the school she goes to is a vocational high school, she has not much hope for her future, not to mention she said “I can’t put up with hardship”.
But it’s not just Xiaowen, everyone in this group had the desire of over-consumption, in the sex trade industry, supply began to form. “We play, shop for clothes, jewelry, eat, drink and seek excitement, all need money, over time the allowance parents give us was not enough. We came up with the idea of prostitution.” Xiaowen said. To them, there is no need to force each other, using their body to earn money has become part of their daily lives.
In the eyes of the general public, Shanghainese people are uniquely smart, have western culture and consumerism, but also save money at the same time. In Lisa Kwong’s book Shanghai Girls, she summed up Shanghainese especially girls as commonly competent and often like to compete with each other socially.
Xiaowen and her friends were also no exception. Although we did not find out where the money they made by selling their bodies went, but a Beijing media personal said, there are a wide range of luxury shops in Shanghai, being a Shanghai girl, having these brand name luxury items is most of their goals.
Middle/high school compensated dating girls incident has caught people of Shanghai by surprise, mainly because losing so much face. During China News Weekly interviews, both general public and experts all said “This is just one off case, a Shanghai local is rarely like that.”
In a vocational school in Jing’an District, a student being interviewed by China News Weekly said with certainty that these compensated dating girls are definitely not Shanghai locals, they should all be outsiders. His speculation did not come without its source. Even Xinmin Evening News (Shanghai local newspaper) reported the compensated dating girl case and especially emphasized the mothers of four students are married to Shanghai from outside.
One anonymous scholar came up with an official 2007 data which showed criminal information processed by Shanghai Minhang District People’s Court in the past ten years. Before 2000, the number of crime committed by outsider is around less than 600, from 2001 to 2002 the number increased to 697, a 18.92% increase rate. In 2004 the number of criminals who are outsiders was over 1000, in 2006 it was 1971 people. Non-local criminals are more than 70% of the total criminals.
This led the scholar more willing to believe, “even though there are local students in this compensated dating case, they were influenced by the bad outsider students.”
In addition, director the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Youth Research Center, Yang Xiong said, “In fact, the bigger the city is, the proportion of underage student students having sex is lower.”
Yang Xiong researched on underage sex in 5 major cities and also some rural areas in the country for 15 years. He said, after the compensated dating girls case, people think high school students in Shanghai are more sexually active and there is a very serious problem. However this thinking has no basis.
In the contrary, Yang Xiong is more willing to believe that because of academic pressure, seniors of junior and high school have the lowest percentage in early sexually activities. Also because of the One Child Policy, parents are paying more attention when students go into puberty. However there are probably more early age sexual activates in vocational schools, “after all, vocational schools students are examination-oriented education losers”.
But in Shanghai, media simply reports the case has to do with the following three factors: family, society and school. And there is no news from these three factors, all various departments shut up, despite how the media knock on the doors.
A media commentator said, although the compensated dating girl incident made people of Shanghai to lose face, but this kind of exposure helps in prevention.
Actually, China News Weekly already noticed during their visit to several vocational schools and middle/high schools in Jing’an, Hongkou, Zhabei, Yangpu District, not only number of security guards on patrols has increased, some schools already notified teachers to strengthen students’ ideological and moral education.