The number of masseuses who have been rough-handled by police and falsely accused of providing sex services has risen sharply over the past year, a rights group said yesterday.
About 30 sex workers, masseuses and social workers from four concern groups marched to police headquarters in Wan Chai yesterday to mark the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
Betty Shao Limin, a project officer of the Health and Massage Federation – a subsidiary organisation of the sex workers’ rights group Zi Teng – said they had received complaints from 120 massagers so far this year, up from 87 last year.
Shao criticised the Massage Establishments Ordinance, which bans full-body massages by the opposite sex, saying that the wording of the current law is too rigid.
“Once [masseuses] touch a customer’s back, they would have committed a criminal offence. It is ridiculous. They cannot make a living if they merely provide foot massage," Shao said.
In certain cases, some undercover officers had even framed massagers for touching their backs, she said.
Jojo, 34, a single mother part-time masseuse, broke into tears as she told of being molested and beaten by police officers. “Five to six officers used a cloth to cover my face and beat me," she said.
Complaints from sex workers against police also increased. Zi Teng received 475 complaints this year – a 50 per cent rise from last year, most relating to officers receiving free sexual services before arresting a prostitute.
A police spokesman said undercover officers observed strict rules, but could receive some sexual services if it was in the operation’s interest.