Heathen Slaves and Christian Rulers
Elizabeth Wheeler Andrew and Katharine Caroline Bushnell

Part 1 out of 4






"_Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them_."

[Illustration: A Chinatown Slave Market and Den of Vice. (Built and
owned by Americans.)]



--AND TO--



"Heathen slaves and Christian rulers." No injustice is done to
Christians in the title given this book. The word "Christian" is
capable of use in two senses, individual and political. We apply the
words "Hindoo" and "Mahommedan" in these two senses also. A man who
has been born and brought up in the environment of the Hindoo or
Mahommedan religions, and who has not avowed some other form of faith,
but has yielded at least an outward allegiance to these forms, we
declare to be a man of one or the other faith. Moreover, we judge of
his religion by the fruits of it in his moral character. Just so,
every European or American who has not openly disavowed the Christian
religion for some other faith is called a "Christian." Furthermore,
such men, when they mingle with those of other religions, as in the
Orient, call themselves "Christians," in distinction from those of
other faith about them. They claim the word "Christian" as by right
theirs in this political sense, and it is in this sense that we employ
the word "Christian" in the title of this book. The word is used thus
when reckoning the world's population according to religions.

As we treat the Hindoo or Mohammedan so he treats us. Our Christianity
is judged, and must ever be, in the Orient, by the moral character of
the men who are called Christian; and the distinguishing vices of
such men are regarded as characteristic of their religion. Official
representatives of a Christian nation have gone to Hong Kong and to
Singapore, and there, because of their social vices, elaborated a
system, first of all of brothel slavery; and domestic slavery has
sheltered itself under its wing, as it were; and lastly, at Singapore
coolie labor is managed by the same set of officials. What these
officials have done has been accepted by the Oriental people about
them as done by the Christian civilization. It cannot be said that the
evils mentioned above have been the outgrowth of Oriental conditions
and customs, principally. It has been rather the misfortune of
the Orient that there were brought to their borders by Western
civilization elements calculated to induce their criminal classes to
ally themselves with these aggressive and stronger "Christians" to
destroy safeguards which had been heretofore sufficient, for the most
part, to conserve Chinese social morality.

Christian people, even as far back as Sir John Bowring, Governor
of Hong Kong, and up to the present time, both at Hong Kong and
Singapore, have acquiesced in the false teaching that vice cannot be
put under check in the Orient, where, it is claimed, passion mounts
higher than in the Occident, and that morality is, to a certain
extent, a matter of climate; and in the presence of large numbers of
unmarried soldiers and sailors it is simply "impracticable" to attempt
repressive measures in dealing with social vice. These Christians
have listened to counsels of despair,--the arguments of gross
materialists,--and have shut their eyes to the plainly written THOU
SHALT NOT of the finger of God in His Book.

Had there been the same staunch standing true to principle in these
Oriental countries as in Great Britain the state of immorality
described in the pages of this book could never have developed to the
extent it did. But Christians yielded before what they considered at
least unavoidable, and, not abiding living protests, must take their
share of blame for the state of matters. A higher moral public opinion
_could_ have been created which would have made the existence of
actual slavery an impossibility, with the amount of legislation that
existed with which to put it down. There were a guilty silence and
a guilty ignorance on the part of the better elements of Christian
society at Singapore and Hong Kong, which could be played upon by
treacherous, corrupt officials by the flimsy device of calling the
ravishing of native women "protection," and the most brazen forms of
slavery "servitude." To this extent the individual Christians of these
colonies are in many cases guilty of compromise with slavery; and to
this extent the title of this book applies to them.

The vices of European and American men in the Orient have not been
the development of climate but of opportunity. It is not so easy in
Christian lands to stock immoral houses with slaves, for the reason
that the slaves are not present with which to do it. Women have
freedom and cannot be openly bought and sold even in marriage; women
have self-reliance and self-respect in a Christian country; they have
a clean, decent religion; women who worship the true God have His
protecting arm to defend themselves, and through them other women
who do not personally worship God share in the benefits. If free,
independent women of God were as scarce in America as in Hong Kong the
same moral conditions would prevail here, without regard to climate,
for, _if women could be bought and sold and reduced by force to
prostitution, there are libertines enough, and they have propensities
strong enough to enter at once upon the business, even in America_.
That which has elevated women above this slave condition is the
development of a self-respect and dignity born of the Christian faith.
But let us take warning. If the women of America have not the decent
self-respect to refuse to tolerate the Oriental slave-prostitute in
this country, the balance will be lost, libertines will have their own
way through the introduction into our social fabric of their slaves,
and Christian womanhood will fall before it. "Ye have not proclaimed
liberty every one to his fellow, therefore I proclaim liberty to you,
saith the Lord, to the sword, and the famine, and the pestilence."

Having yielded before counsels of despair, those who should have stood
shoulder to shoulder with statesmen like Sir John Pope Hennessy and
Sir John Smale in their efforts to exterminate slavery, rather, by
their indifference and ignorance, greatly added to the obstacles put
in their way by unworthy officials.

The story we have to relate cannot in any fairness be used as an
arraignment of British Christianity excepting as we have already
indicated as to local conditions. The record that British Christian
philanthropists have made, under the leadership of the now sainted
Mrs. Josephine Butler, in their world-wide influence for purity, needs
no eulogy from our pen. It is known to the world. May Americans strive
with equal energy against conditions far more hopeful of amendment,
and we will be content to leave the issue with God.

It was our purpose when we undertook the task of writing a sketch
which would enable Americans to understand the social conditions that
are being introduced into our midst from the Orient, merely to make
a concise, brief statement of social conditions in Hong Kong out of
which these have grown, drawing our information from State Documents
of the British Government that we have had for some time in our
possession, and of which we have made a close study, as well as from
our own observations of the conditions themselves as they exist at
Hong Kong and Singapore. But almost at once we abandoned that attempt
as unwise because likely to prove injurious rather than helpful to the
object we have in view. The facts that we have to relate form one of
the blackest chapters in the history of human slavery, and slavery
brought up to the present time. Our statements if standing merely on
our own word would be met at once with incredulity and challenged, and
before we could defend them by producing the proof, a prejudice would
be created that might prove disastrous to our hopes of arousing our
country to the point of exterminating this horrible Oriental brothel
slavery by means of which even American men are enriching themselves
on the Pacific Coast.

Therefore we have felt obliged to produce our proof at once and at
first, and after that, if needed, we can write a more simple, concise
account, in less official and less cumbersome form, more suitable for
the general public to read,--not that the case could be stated in
purer or cleaner language than that used in the quotations from
official statements and letters, but the language might be more suited
to public taste. But worth cannot be sacrificed to taste, and, as we
have said, we feel compelled to publish the matter in its present form
first of all.

We send it forth, therefore, with the earnest prayer that, while
the book itself may have a limited circulation, yet, through the
providence of God, it may arouse some one to attempt that which seems
beyond our powers and opportunity,--some one who will feel the call of
God; who has the training and the ability; some one who has the spirit
of devotion and self-denial; some one of keen moral perceptions and
lofty faith in the ultimate triumph of justice, who will lead a
crusade that will never halt until Oriental slavery is banished from
our land, and it can no more be said, "The name of God is blasphemed
among the heathen because of you."

The documents from which we have quoted so extensively in this book
are the following:

"_Correspondence Relating to the Working of the Contagious Diseases
Ordinances of the Colony of Hongkong_." August 1881. C.-3093.

"_Copy of Report of the Commissioners Appointed by His Excellency,
John Pope Hennessy ... to inquire Into the Working of the Contagious
Diseases Ordinance, 1867_." March 11, 1880. H.C. 118.

"_Correspondence Respecting the Alleged Existence of Chinese Slavery
in Hongkong_." March, 1882. C.-3185.

"_Return of all the British Colonies and Dependencies in Which by
Ordinance or Otherwise Any System Involving the Principles of the Late
Contagious Diseases Acts, 1866 and 1869, is in force, with Copies of
Such Ordinances or Other Regulations_." June, 1886. H.C. 247.

"_Copies of Correspondence or Extracts Therefrom Relating to the
Repeal of Contagious Diseases Ordinances and Regulations in the Crown
Colonies_." September, 1887. H.C. 347

Same as above, in continuation, March, 1889. H.C. 59.

Same as above, in continuation, June, 1890. H.C. 242.

"_Copy of Correspondence which has taken place since that comprised
in the Paper presented to the House of Commons in 1890_ (H.C. 242),"
etc., June 4, 1894. H. C. 147.

"_Copy of Correspondence Relative to Proposed Introduction of
Contagious Diseases Regulations in Perak or Other Protected Malay
States_." June 4, 1894. H.C. 146.

May 1907









Time was when so-called Christian civilization seemed able to send its
vices abroad and keep its virtues at home. When men went by long
sea voyages to the far East in sailing vessels, in the interests of
conquest or commerce, and fell victims to their environments and weak
wills, far removed from the restraints of religious influences, and
from the possibility of exposure and disgrace in wrongdoing, they
lived with the prospect before them, not always unfulfilled, of
returning to home and to virtue to die.

That day has passed forever. With the invention of steam as a
locomotive power of great velocity, with the introduction of the
cable, and later, the wireless telegraphy; with the mastery of these
natural forces and their introduction in every part of the world, we
see the old world being drawn nearer and nearer to us by ten thousand
invisible cords of commercial interests, until shortly, probably
within the lifetime of you and me, the once worn out and almost
stranded wreck will be found quickened with new life and moored
alongside us. The Orient is already feeling the thrill of renewed
life. It is responding to the touch of the youth and vigor of the
West and becoming rejuvenated; it is drawing closer and closer in its
eagerness for the warmth of new interests. The West is no longer alone
in seeking a union; the East is coming to the West. And that part of
the East which first responds to the West is the old acquaintance; the
one that knows most about us, our ways and our resources; the element
with which the long sea-voyager mingled in the days when it seemed
more difficult for man to be virtuous, because separated so far from
family and friends and living in intense loneliness. The element which
now draws closest to us is that portion of the Orient with which the
adventurer warred and sinned long ago, and which bears the deep scars
of sin and battle.

As the old hulk is moored alongside, in order that the man of Western
enterprise may cross with greater facility the gangplank and develop
latent resources on the other side, the Easterner hurries across from
his side to ours with no less eagerness, to pick up gold in a land
where it seems so abundant to him. Almost unnoticed, the Orient is
telescoping its way into the very heart of the Occident, and with
fearful portent and peril, particularly to the Western woman.

This is not what is desired, but it will be inevitable. Exclusion
laws must finally give way before the pressure. Already the Orient is
knocking vigorously at the door of the Occident, and unless admission
is granted soon, measures of retaliation will be operated to force an
entrance. How to administer them the Orient already knows, for has
not the door to his domicile been already forced open by the Western
trader? The Orient is fast arming for the conflict.

The men of the days of sailing vessels, who went to the far East and
made sport of and trampled upon the virtue of the women of a weaker
nation, have not all died in peace, leaving their vices far off
and gathering virtues about them to crown their old age with
venerableness. Some have lived to see that whatsoever man soweth that
shall he also reap. They have lived to see the tide setting in in the
other direction, and the human wreckage of past vices swept by the
current of immigration close to their own domicile. Their own children
are in danger of being engulfed in the polluting flood of Oriental
life in our midst. After many days vices come home. Man sowed the
wind; the whirlwind must be reaped. The Oriental slave trader and the
Oriental slave promise to become a terrible menace and scourge to our
twentieth century civilization. Herein lies great peril to American
womanhood. Whether we wish it to be so or not,--whether we perceive
from the first that it is so or not, there is a solidarity of
womanhood that men and women must reckon with. The man who wrongs
another's daughter perceives afterwards that he wronged his own
daughter thereby. We cannot, without sin against humanity, ask the
scoffer's question, "Am I my sister's keeper?"--not even concerning
the poorest and meanest foreign woman, for the reason that _she is
our sister_. The conditions that surround the Hong Kong slave girl in
California are bound in time to have their influence upon the social,
legal and moral status of all California women, and later of all
American womanhood.

In considering the life history of the Chinese woman living in our
Chinatowns in America, therefore, we are studying matters of vital
importance to us. And in order to a clear understanding of the matter,
we must go back to the beginning of the slave-trade which has brought
these women to the West.

Four points on the south coast of China are of especial interest to
us, being the sources of supply of this slave-trade. These are Macao,
Canton, Kowloon and Hong Kong, and the women coming to the West from
this region all pass through Hong Kong, remaining there a longer or
shorter time, the latter place being the emporium and thoroughfare of
all the surrounding ports.

The south coast of China is split by a Y-shaped gap, at about its
middle, where the Canton river bursts the confines of its banks and
plunges into the sea. The lips of this mouth of the river are everted
like those of an aboriginal African, and like a pendant from the
eastern lip hangs the Island of Hong Kong, separated from the mainland
by water only one-fourth of a mile wide. From the opposite or western
lip hangs another pendant, a small island upon which is situated the
Portuguese city of Macao. The mainland adjoining Hong Kong is the
peninsula of Kowloon, ceded to the British with the island of Hong
Kong. Well up in the mouth of the river on its western bank, some
eighty miles from Hong Kong, is the city of Canton.

Let us imagine for a moment that the on-coming civilization of our
country pushed the American Indians not westward but southward toward
the Gulf of Mexico and along the banks of the Mississippi, and
compressed them on every side until at last they were obliged to take
to boats in the mouth of the Mississippi and live there perpetually,
seldom stepping foot on land.

Now we are the better able to understand exactly what took place with
an aboriginal tribe in China. These aborigines were, centuries ago,
pushed southward by an on-coming civilization until at last, by
imperial decree, they were forbidden to live anywhere except on boats
in the mouth of the Canton river, floating up and down that stream,
and sailing about Hong Kong and Macao in the more open sea.

They must have been always a hardy people, for the river population
about Canton numbers today nearly 200,000 souls. In 1730, the severity
of the laws regulating their lives was relaxed somewhat by imperial
decree, and since then some of them have dwelt in villages along the
river bank. But to the present day these people, known as the Tanka
Tribe, or the "saltwater" people, by the natives, may not inter-marry
with other Chinese, nor are they ever allowed to attain to official

Living always on boats near the river's mouth, these were the first
Chinese to come in contact with foreign sailing vessels which
approached China in the earliest days. They sold their wares to the
foreigners; they piloted their boats into port; they did the laundry
work for the ships. In many ways they showed friendliness to the
foreigners while as yet the landsman viewed the new-comers with
suspicion. Their women were grossly corrupted by contact with the
foreign voyagers and sailors.

Hong Kong was a long way off at the beginning of the nineteenth
century, when Great Britain began to send Government-manufactured
opium from India to China, and when China prohibited the trade the
drug was smuggled in. When Chinese officials at last rose up to check
this invasion by foreign trade, wars followed in which China was
worsted, and the island of Hong Kong, together with the Kowloon
peninsula, became a British possession as war indemnity. Hong Kong
is a "mere dot in the ocean less than twenty-seven miles in
circumference," and when Great Britain took possession its inhabitants
were limited to "a few fishermen and cottagers."

The Tankas helped the British in many ways in waging these wars, and
when peace was established went to live with them on the island. This
action on the part of these "river people" is significant as showing
as much or more attachment to the foreigner than to the other classes
of Chinese. There seems always to be less conscience in wronging
an alien people than in injuring a people to whom one is closely
attached, and this sense of estrangement from other Chinese may
account to some extent for the facility with which this aboriginal
people engaged, a little later, in the trade in women and girls
brought from the mainland to meet the demands of profligate

Sir Charles Elliott, Governor of Hong Kong, wishing to attract Chinese
immigration to the island, issued, on February 1st and 2nd, 1841, two
proclamations in the name of the Queen, to the effect that there would
be no interference with the free exercise on the part of the Chinese
of their religious rites, ceremonies and social customs, "pending Her
Majesty's pleasure."

Following the custom of all Oriental people, to whom marriage is a
trade in the persons of women, when the Tankas saw that the foreigners
had come to that distant part almost universally without wife or
family, they offered to sell them women and girls, and the British
seem to have purchased them at first, but afterwards they modified the
practice to merely paying a monthly stipend. All slavery throughout
British possessions had been prohibited only a few years before the
settlement of Hong Kong, in 1833, when 20,000,000 pounds had been
distributed by England as a boon to slave-holders.

Hong Kong's first Legislative Council was held in 1844, and its first
ordinance was an anti-slavery measure in the form of an attempt to
define the law relating to slavery. It was a long process in those
days for the Colony to get the Queen's approval of its legislative
measures, so that a year had elapsed before a dispatch was returned
from the Home Government disallowing the Ordinance as superfluous,
slavery being already forbidden, and slave-dealing indictable by law.
On the same day, January 24th, 1845, the following proclamation was
made: "Whereas, the Acts of the British Parliament for the abolition
of the slave trade, and for the abolition of slavery, extend by their
own proper force and authority to Hong Kong: This is to apprise all
persons of the same, and to give notice that these Acts will be
enforced by all Her Majesty's officers, civil and military, within
this Colony."

The "foreigners," by which name, according to a custom which prevails
to this day in the East, we shall call persons of British, European or
American birth,--called a native mistress a "protected woman," and her
"protector" set her up in an establishment by herself, apart from
his abode, and here children were born to the foreigner, some to be
educated in missionary schools and elsewhere by their illegitimate
fathers and afterwards become useful men and women, but probably the
majority, more neglected, to become useless and profligate,--if girls,
mistresses to foreigners, or, as the large number of half-castes in
the immoral houses at Hong Kong at the present time demonstrates, to
fall to the lowest depths of degradation.

These "protected women," enriched beyond anything they had even known
before the foreigner came to that part of the world, with the usual
thrift of the Chinese temperament, sought for a way to invest their
earnings, and quite naturally, could think of nothing so profitable
as securing women and girls to meet the demands of the foreigners.
Marriage having always been, to the Oriental mind, scarcely anything
beyond the mere trade in the persons of women, it was but a step from
that attitude of mind to the selling of girls to the foreigner, and
the rearing of them for that object. The "protected women," being of
the Tanka tribe, were well situated for this purpose, for they had
many relations of kindred and friendship all up and down the Canton
river, and the business of the preparation of slave girls for the
foreigners and for foreign markets (as the trade expanded) gradually
extended backwards up the Canton river, until many of its boats were
almost given over to it. "Flower-boats" were probably never unknown to
this river, but, besides their use as brothels, they became stocked
with little girls under training for vice, under the incitement of an
ever-growing slave trade. These little girls were bought, stolen or
enticed from the mainland by these river people, to swell the number
of their own children destined to the infamous slave trade. Chinese
law forbids this kind of slavery, but, as we have seen, the Tanka
people were sort of outlaws, the river life facilitated such a
business, and Hong Kong was near at hand.

In later years Dr. Eitel, Chinese interpreter to the Governor, stated:

"Almost every so-called 'protected woman,' i.e. kept mistress of
foreigners here, belongs to the Tanka tribe, looked down upon and kept
at a distance by all the other Chinese classes. It is among these
Tanka women, and especially under the protection of these 'protected'
Tanka women, that private prostitution and the sale of girls for
concubinage flourishes, being looked upon as a legitimate profession.
Consequently, almost every 'protected woman' keeps a nursery of
purchased children or a few servant girls who are being reared with
a view to their eventual disposal, according to their personal
qualifications, either among foreigners here as kept women, or among
Chinese residents as their concubines, or to be sold for export to
Singapore, San Francisco, or Australia. Those 'protected women,'
moreover, generally act as 'protectors' each to a few other Tanka
women who live by sly prostitution."

When once a man enters the service of Satan he is generally pressed
along into it to lengths he did not at first intend to go. So it
proved in the case of many foreigners at Hong Kong. The foreigner
extended his "protection" to a native mistress. That "protected woman"
extended his name as "protector" over the inmates of her secret
brothel; and into that house protected largely from official
interference, purchased and kidnaped girls were introduced and reared
for the trade in women. The sensitive point seems to have been that
an enforcement of the anti-slavery laws would have interfered in many
instances with the illicit relations of the foreigner, exposing him
to ignominy and sending the mother of his children to prison. It was
sufficient for the "protected" woman to say, when the officer of the
law rapped at her door, "This is not a brothel, but the private
family residence of Mr. So-and-So," naming some foreigner,--perhaps
a high-placed official,--and the officer's search would proceed no

It was claimed that this slavery, and also domestic slavery, which
sprang up so suddenly after the settlement of Hong Kong by the
British, was the outgrowth of Chinese customs, and could not be
suppressed but with the greatest difficulty, and their suppression
was an unwarrantable interference with Chinese customs, Sir Charles
Elliott having given promise from the first that such customs should
not be interfered with. But, as we have shown, that promise was only
made, "pending Her Majesty's pleasure," which had been very plainly
and pointedly expressed later as opposed to slavery.

As to the matter of "custom," Sir John Smale, Chief Justice of
Hong Kong, said, in 1879, in the Supreme Court, on the occasion of
sentencing prisoners for slave trading and kidnaping:

"Can Chinese slavery, as it _de facto_ exists in Hong Kong, be
considered a Chinese custom which can be brought within the intent
and meaning of either of the proclamations of 1841 so as to be
sanctioned by the proclamations? I assert that it cannot.... A
custom is 'such a usage as by common consent and uniform practice
has become a law.' In 1841 there could have been no custom of
slavery in Hong Kong as now set up, for, save a few fishermen and
cottagers, the island was uninhabited; and between 1841 and 1844,
the date of the Ordinance expressly prohibiting slavery, there was
no time for such a custom to have grown up; and slavery in
every form having been by express law prohibited by the Royal
proclamation of the Queen in 1845, no custom contrary to that law
could, after that date, grow up, because the thing was by express
law illegal. I go further, and I find that the penal law of China,
whilst it facilitates the adoption of children into a family to
keep up its succession, prohibits by section 78 the receiving into
his house by any one of a person of a different surname, declaring
him guilty of 'confounding family distinctions,' and punishing him
with 60 blows; the father of the son who shall 'give away' ... his
son is to be subject to the same punishment. Again, section 79
enacts that whosoever shall receive and detain the strayed or lost
child of a respectable person, and, instead of taking it before
the magistrate, sell such child as a slave, shall be punished by
100 blows and three years' banishment. Whosoever shall sell such
child for marriage or adoption into any family as son or grandson
shall be punished with 90 blows and banishment for two years and
a half. Whosoever shall dispose of a strayed or lost slave shall
suffer the punishment provided by the law reduced one degree. If
any person shall receive or detain a fugitive child, and, instead
of taking it before the magistrate, sell such child for a slave,
he shall be punished by 90 blows and banishment for two years and
a half. Whosoever shall sell any such fugitive child for marriage
or adoption shall suffer the punishment of 80 blows and two years'
banishment.... Whosoever shall detain for his own use as a slave,
wife, or child, any such lost, strayed or fugitive child or slave,
shall be equally liable to be punished as above mentioned, but if
only guilty of detaining the same for a short time the punishment
shall not exceed 80 blows. When the purchaser or the negotiator of
the purchase shall be aware of the unlawfulness of the transaction
he shall suffer punishment one degree less than that inflicted on
the seller, and the amount of the pecuniary consideration shall
he forfeited to Government, but when he or they are foun
have been unacquainted therewith they shall not be liable to
punishment, and the money shall be restored to the party from whom
it had been received." The Chief Justice continues: "After reading
these extracts from the Penal Code of China--an old Code revised
from time to time ... I cannot see how it can be maintained that
any form of slavery was ever tolerated by law in Hong Kong, as it
_de facto_ exists here, or how the words of the two proclamations
of 1841 could be said to bear the color of tolerating slavery
under the British flag in Hong Kong. It is clear to me that the
Queen's proclamation of 1845, which I have already quoted at full,
declares slavery absolutely illegal here."

The truth, then, seems to be that a great demand had arisen for
Chinese women at Hong Kong, the most direct cause being the irregular
conduct of foreigners--officials, private individuals, soldiers and
sailors--who gathered there at the time of the opium wars, and settled
there in large numbers when Hong Kong became a British possession.
This demand was responded to from the native side, for it was said:
"When the colony of Hong Kong was first established in 1842, it
was forthwith invaded by brothel keepers and prostitutes from the
adjoining districts of the mainland of China, who brought with them
the national Chinese system of prostitution, and have ever since
labored to carry it into effect in all its details."[A] The demand
that brought this supply was further added to from two sources, first,
Chinese residents attracted to Hong Kong had made money there rapidly,
and had fallen into profligate and luxurious manners of life,
and second, Chinese going abroad to Australia, Singapore and San
Francisco, created a demand for immoral women in these foreign lands
which called for supplies from Hong Kong, and at Singapore the demand
came also from the class of foreigners who resided there.

[Footnote A: Hong Kong was occupied by the British in 1841, but not
ceded until 1842.]

The system of management of prostitution was originally Chinese, and
differs much from anything known under Western civilization, in that
the women are never what we speak of as "fallen women," because not
the victims of seduction nor of base propensities that have led to the
choice of such a life. They are either slaves trained for or sold into
shame, or women temporarily held for debt by a sort of mortgage. To
this Chinese system of prostitution, however, there was soon applied
at Hong Kong a Government system of regulation or license under
surveillance. This modified the system, intensified the slavery, and
was the cause of reducing many women from the respectable ranks
of Chinese life at once and arbitrarily to the lowest depths of
degradation, as we shall explain and demonstrate in subsequent

The native woman, rented for a monthly stipend from her owners was
called "protected" at Hong Kong. What charm this word "protection,"
and the title "Protector" has held for certain persons, as applied
to the male sex! "Man, the natural protector of woman." Forsooth, to
protect her from what? Rattlesnakes, buffalo, lions, wildcats no more
overrun the country, and why is this relation of "protector" still
claimed? Why, to protect woman from rudeness, and insult and sometimes
even worse. But from whence comes that danger of rudeness and insult
or worse from which man is to protect woman? From man, of course.
Man is, then, woman's natural protector to protect her from man, her
natural protector. He is to set himself the task of defending her
from his injury of her, and he is charmed with the avocation. He will
protect her as Abraham protected Sarah when he took her into Egypt.
"Do so-and-so," said Abraham to Sarah, "that it may be well with
me,--for thy sake." The history of the Chinese slave woman as she came
in contact with the foreigner at Hong Kong and at Singapore proceeds
all along a pathway labelled "protection," down to the last ditch of
human degradation. "Well with me," was the motive in the mind of the
"protector." "For thy sake," the argument for the thing as put before
the woman and before the world.



In 1849 a man whose name is known the world over as a writer of
Christian hymns, went to Canton as British Consul and Superintendent
of trade. After a few years he returned to England, and in 1854 was
knighted and sent out to govern the new colony of Hong Kong. It is he
who wrote that beautiful hymn, among others, "Watchman, tell us of
the night." He also wrote, "In the Cross of Christ I Glory." One is
tempted to ask, in which Cross?--the kind made of gilded tin which
holds itself aloft in pride on the top of the church steeple, or
the Cross proclaimed in the challenge of the great Cross-bearer,
"Whosoever doth not bear his Cross, and come after Me, cannot be my
disciple"? The Cross is the emblem of self-sacrifice for the salvation
of the world. Oh, that men really gloried in such self-sacrifice, and
held it forth as the worthiest principle of life! Did Sir John Bowring
hold aloft such a Cross as this, and, with his Master, recommend it
to the world as the means of its elevation and emancipation from the
blight of sin? We shall not judge him individually. His example should
be a warning to the fact that even the most religious men can too
often hold very different views of life according to whether they are
embodied in religious sentiments or in one's politics. But nowhere are
right moral conceptions more needed (not in hymn-book nor in church),
as in the enactments by which one's fellow-beings are governed. Other
religious men not so conspicuous as Sir John Bowring, but of more
enlightened days than his, have died and left on earth a testimony to
strangely divergent views and principles, according to whether they
were crystallized in religious sentiments, or in the laws of the land,
and according to whether they legislated for men or for women.

On May 2nd, 1856, Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong, wrote to
the Secretary of State for the Colonies at London submitting a draft
of an Ordinance which was desired at Hong Kong because of certain
conditions prevailing at Hong Kong which were described in the
enclosures in his despatch. Mr. Labouchere, the Secretary of State for
the Colonies at the time, replied to the Governor's representations
in the following language: "The Colonial Government has not, I think,
attached sufficient weight to the very grave fact that in a British
Colony large numbers of women should be held in practical slavery for
the purposes of prostitution, and allowed in some cases to perish
miserably of disease in the prosecution of their employment, and for
the gain of those to whom they suppose themselves to belong. A class
of persons who by no choice of their own are subjected to such
treatment have an urgent claim on the active protection of

Hong Kong, the British colony, had existed but fourteen years when
this was written. Only a handful of fishermen and cottagers were on
the island before the British occupation. Its Chinese population had
come from a country where, as we have seen, laws against the buying
and selling, detaining and kidnaping human beings were not unfamiliar.
Only eleven years had elapsed since the Queen's proclamation against
slavery in that colony had been published to its inhabitants, and yet,
during that time, slavery had so advanced at Hong Kong, against
both Chinese and British law, as to receive this recognition and
acknowledgment on the part of the Secretary of State at London:

1st, That it is a "grave fact that" at Hong Kong "large numbers of
women" are "held in practical slavery."

2nd, That this slavery is "for the gain of those to whom they
suppose themselves to belong."

3rd, That it is so cruel that "in some cases" they "perish
miserably ... in the prosecution of their employment."

4th, That it is "by no choice of their own" that they prosecute
their employment, and "are subjected to such treatment."

5th, That they have "an urgent claim upon the active protection of

6th, That the service to which these slaves are doomed, through
"no choice of their own," is the most degraded to which a slave
could possibly be reduced, i.e., "prostitution."

When Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin," she sounded
the note of doom for slavery in the United States. After that, slavery
became intolerable. Many have remarked on the fact that the book
should have so stirred the conscience of the Christian world, when
there are depicted in it so many even engaging features and admirable
persons, woven into the story of wrong. Her pen did not seem to make
slavery appear always and altogether black. But there was the fate of
"Uncle Tom," and the picture of "Cassie," captive of "Legree." It was
not what slavery always was, but _what it might be_--the terrible
possibilities, that aroused the conscience of Christendom, and made
the perpetuation of African slavery an impossibility to Americans.
The master _might_ choose to use his power over the slave for the
indulgence of his own basest propensities.

Almost at the same time of these stirring events connected with
slavery in the United States, Mr. Labouchere penned the above words,
admitting that slavery at Hong Kong had descended to that lowest
level. Infamy instead of industry was the lot of these, engaged in the
"prosecution of their employment," through "no choice of their own."

Can we anticipate what legal measures would be asked for at Hong Kong,
and granted in London in order to relieve this horrible condition.
It seems at once obvious that the following would be some of them at

1st, A clear announcement that this slavery was prohibited by
the Queen's Anti-Slavery Proclamation of 1845, and would not be

2nd, Women who "supposed themselves to belong" to masters would be
at once told that they were free agents and belonged to no one.

3rd, The master who dared claim the ownership of a former slave
would be prosecuted and suitably punished.

4th, Any slave perishing miserably from disease would not only be
healed at public expense, but placed where there was no further
risk of contagion.

5th, Since such slaves had "an urgent claim on the _active_
protection of the Government," they would be treated as wards of
the State until safe from like treatment a second time.

6th, Since this slavery had sprung up in defiance of law, any
official who at a future time connived at such crime would be
liable to impeachment.

The Ordinance sent home for sanction, and approved of by Mr.
Labouchere as needed for the "protection" of slave women, was
proclaimed as Ordinance 12, 1857, after some slight modifications, and
an official appointed a few months before, called the "Protector of
Chinese," was charged with the task of its enforcement. This official
is also called the Registrar General at Hong Kong, but the former name
was given him at the first, and the official at Singapore charged
with the same duties is always, to this day, called the "Protector of

The new Ordinance embodied the following features:

1st, The registration of immoral houses.

2nd, Their confinement to certain localities.

3rd, The payment of registration fees to the Government.

4th, A periodical, compulsory, indecent examination of every woman

5th, The imprisonment of the slave in the Lock Hospital until
cured, and then a return to her master and the exact conditions
under which she was "from no choice of her own," exposed to
contagion, with the expectation that she would be shortly returned
again infected.

6th, The punishment by imprisonment of the slave when any man was
found infected from consorting with her, through "no choice of her

7th, The punishment by fine and imprisonment of all persons
keeping slaves in an _un_registered house (which was not a source
of profit to the Government).

This was the only sort of "active protection" that the Government
of Hong Kong at that time provided to the slave. The matter of
"protection" which concerned the "Protector of Chinese," related to
keeping the women from becoming incapacitated in the prosecution of
their employment, and to seeing that the hopelessly diseased were
eliminated from the herd of slaves. The rest of the "protection"
looked to the physical well-being of another portion of the
community--the fornicators. If physical harm came to them from wilful
sin, the Chinese women would be punished by imprisonment for it,
though their sin was forced upon them. This was "protection" from the
official standpoint.

Mr. Labouchere had replied with his approval of this Ordinance dealing
with contagious diseases due to vice, as though the application for
the measure had been made in behalf of the slaves of Hong Kong. Such
was not the case. The enclosures in Sir John Bowring's despatch had
been a sensational description of the urgent need of vicious men for
the active protection of the Government from the consequences of
their vices. Later, a Commission of Inquiry into the working of this
Ordinance comments upon official statements as to the satisfactory
consequences of the enactment of the measure in the checking of
disease. The Commission demonstrates that in many instances their
statements were absolute falsehoods, as proved by statements made by
the same officials elsewhere. Since these officials are proved to have
been so untruthful after the passing of the Ordinance, we can put no
reliance on their statements previous to its enactments, and the
more so because the statistics for Hong Kong in its early days are
hopelessly confused with the general statistics for all China,
wherever British soldiers or sailors were to be found. Therefore they
are unavailable for citation. But as to statements made after the
passage of the Ordinance, we append a compilation, as set forth by Dr.
Birkbeck Nevins of Liverpool, England.


"Referring to the Colonial Surgeon's Department, we feel bound
to point out that those portions of the _Annual Medical Reports_
which refer to the subject of the Lock Hospital _have, in too many
instances, been altogether misleading_." (Report of Commission, p.
2, parag. 2.)

"In 1862 (five years after the Act had been in force) Dr. Murray
was '_completely satisfied_ with the _incalculable_ benefit that
had resulted to the colony from the Ordinance of 1857'"[A]

[Footnote A: An extreme form of C.D. Acts, without parallel in any
other place under British rule.]

"In 1865 (after eight years' experience) he wrote, 'the _good_ the
Ordinance does _is undoubted_; but the good it might do, were all
the unlicensed brothels suppressed, was incalculable.'"

"In 1867 (after ten years' experience) the _public_ was informed
that the Ordinance had been 'on trial for nearly ten years, and
_had done singular service_.'"

_Yet in this very same year_--1867, April 19th--"Dr. Murray stated
in an _Official Report not intended for publication_, but found
by the Commission among other Government papers, and
published,--'That venereal disease has been _on the increase_,
in spite of all that has been done to check it, _is no new
discovery_; it has already been brought before the notice of His
Excellency.'" (Report, p. 35, pars. 4 and 5.)

What is to be thought of the character of such reports for the
_Public_, and such an _Official Report_, "not _intended_ to be

This same Dr. Murray's Annual Report for the _Public_ for
1867, was _actually put in evidence before the House of Lords'
Committee_ on venereal diseases--1868, page 135. "Venereal disease
here has now become of _comparatively rare occurrence_." Yet the
_Army_ Report for the previous year (1866, page 115) states that
"the admissions to hospital for venereal disease were 281 per 1000
men;" i.e., more than one man in four of the whole soldiery had
been in hospital for this "comparatively rare" disease.

As regards the Navy, Dr. Murray says, "the evidence of Dr.
Bernard, the Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals and Fleets, is
even more satisfactory. He writes (Jan. 27), 'I am enabled to say
that true syphilis is now rarely contracted by our men in Hong
Kong.'" Yet the "China station," in which Hong Kong occupies so
important a position, had at the time 25 per cent. more _secondary
(true) syphilis than any other naval station in the world, except
one (the S.E. American_); it had 101 of _primary (true) against
68 in the North American_, 31 in the S.E. American, and 22 in the
Australian stations (_all unprotected_); and _gonorrhoea_ was
_higher than in any other naval station in the world_. This
_official_ misleading feature is to be found in other quarters
than Dr. Murray's Reports; for in the _Navy_ Report for 1873
(p. 282), Staff Surgeon Bennett, medical officer of the ship
permanently stationed in Hong Kong, says--"Owing to the excellent
working of the Contagious Diseases Acts, venereal complaints in
the colony are reduced _to a minimum_. The _few cases_ of syphilis
are chiefly due to private prostitutes not known to the police."

In a representation made to the Secretary of State by W.H. Sloggett,
Inspector of Certified Hospitals, October 7, 1879, we get an exact
account of what led to the passage of the Contagious Diseases
Ordinance of 1857. He says: "In 1857, owing to the very strong
representations which had been made to the Governor during the
previous three years, by different naval officers in command of the
China Station, of the prevalence and severity of venereal disease at
Hong Kong, a Colonial Ordinance for checking these diseases was passed
in November of that year."

When Lord Kimberley was Secretary of State he wrote (on September 29,
1880) Governor Hennessy of Hong Kong in defence of the Ordinance of
1857,--at least as to the motive expressed by Mr. Labouchere for
consenting to the passing of the Ordinance: "These humane intentions
of Mr. Labouchere have been frustrated by various causes, among which
must be included that the police have from the first been allowed to
look upon this branch of their work as beneath their dignity,
while the sanitary regulation of the brothels appears from recent
correspondence to have been almost entirely disregarded." To this
Governor Hennessy replied: "On the general question of the Government
system of licensing brothels, your Lordship seems to think that I have
not sufficiently recognized that the establishment of the system was
a police measure, intended to give the Hong Kong Government some hold
upon the brothels, in hope of improving the condition of the inmates,
and of checking the odious species of slavery to which they are
subjected. I can, however, assure your Lordship, whatever good
intentions may have been entertained and expressed by Her Majesty's
Government when the licensing system was established, that it has been
worked for a different purpose." ... "The real purpose of the brothel
legislation here has been, in the odious words so often used, the
provision of clean Chinese women for the use of the British soldiers
and sailors of the Royal Navy in this Colony."

The real object of the Ordinance, commended by the Secretary of State
as answering to "an urgent claim" on the part of slaves "upon the
active protection of the Government," the operation of which was
placed in the hands of the so-called Protector of Chinese, was plainly
described in the preamble of the Ordinance as making "provisions for
checking the spread of venereal diseases within this Colony." No other
object was stated.

The intention of the Government was that the Ordinance should be
worked by the aid of the whole police force; but as early as 1860 we
find the Protector, or Registrar General, D.R. Caldwell, reporting
to the Colonial Secretary that "upon the first promulgation of the
Ordinance, the Superintendent of Police manifested an indisposition
to interfere in the working of the Ordinance, from a belief that it
opened a door to corruption to the members of the force under him."
Later, Mr. May, the superintendent of police alluded to, said before
the Commission of Inquiry: "That he would not have permitted the
police to have anything to do with the control or supervision of
brothels under the Ordinance, being apart from the general objects
of police duties, and from the great probability of its leading to
corruption." Let this be told to Mr. May's lasting credit. Whereupon,
on the Registrar General's application, the office of Inspector of
Brothels was created.

We have referred several times to a certain Commission which was
appointed to inquire into the working of the Contagious Diseases
Ordinances of Hong Kong. This Commission was appointed by Governor
Hennessy on November 12th, 1877, and was composed of William Keswick,
unofficial member of the Legislative Council, Thomas Child Hallyer,
Esq., "one of Her Majesty's Counsel for the Colony," and Ernest John
Eitel, M.A., Ph.D., Chinese Interpreter to the Governor. We shall have
frequent cause to quote from this Commission's report, and as it is
the only Commission we shall quote, we shall henceforth speak of it
merely as "the Commission." This report says, concerning inspectors of
brothels: "These posts, although fairly lucrative, do not seem to be
coveted by men of very high class." For instance, we find in a report
dated December 11, 1873, by the captain superintendent of police, Mr.
Dean, and the acting Registrar General, Mr. Tonnochy, that they were
not prepared to recommend anyone for an appointment to a vacancy which
had just occurred, owing to the reluctance of the police inspectors to
accept "the office of Inspector of Brothels." Mr. Creagh says, that
the post is not one "which any of our inspectors would take. They look
down on the post." "They are a class very inferior to those who
would be inspectors with us. I don't believe anyone wishes it, but
constables, or perhaps sergeants, would take the post for the pay."
Mr. Dean would also "object to its being made a part of the duty of
the general police to enforce the Contagious Diseases Acts." "My
inspectors and sergeants," he says, "would so strongly object to
taking the office that I should be unable to get anyone on whom I
could rely.... The Inspector of Police looks down on the Inspector of
Brothels." Dr. Ayres tells us: "You cannot get men fitted for the work
at present salaries, and you have to put tremendous powers into the
hands of men like those we have."

Yet into the hands of men lower in character than the lowest of the
police force was committed, in large part, the operation of Ordinance
12, 1857, recommended by Mr. Labouchere as a sort of benevolent scheme
for the defense of poor Chinese slaves under the British flag, who had
"an urgent claim on the protection of Government."



Dr. Bridges, the Acting Attorney General at Hong Kong, who had framed
the Contagious Diseases Ordinance of 1857, had given an assurance
concerning it expressed in the following words: "There will be less
difficulty in dealing with prostitution in this Colony than with the
same in any other part of the world, as I believe the prostitutes here
to be almost, without exception, Chinese who would be thankful to
be placed under medical control of any kind; that few if any of the
prostitutes are free agents, having been brought up for the purposes
of prostitution by the keepers of brothels, and that whether as
regards the unfortunate creatures themselves, the persons who obtain
a living by these prostitutes, or the Chinese inhabitants in general,
there are fewer rights to be interfered with here, less grounds for
complaint by the parties controlled, and fewer prejudices on the
subject to be shocked among the more respectable part of the community
than could be found elsewhere." Mr. D.R. Caldwell, Protector,
confirmed these views. But the views of the Chinese themselves had
never been elicited, and immediately such prejudice was aroused among
them that it was considered wise to subject only those houses resorted
to by foreigners and their inmates, to medical surveillance. Says the
report of the Commission: "So great has been the detestation of the
Chinese of the system of personal examination, that it has been
found practically impossible to apply it to purely Chinese houses of
ill-fame [that is, places resorted to by Chinese only], to the present
day." At once, then, the business of the Ordinance, as far as disease
was concerned, became restricted to a fancied "protection" of foreign
men given over to the practice of vice. But, as we show elsewhere
on the statements of the officials who operated the Ordinance (made
confidentially, but not intended for publication), that object was not
realized, and in the very nature of things, never will be, by such
measures. When the State guarantees the service of "clean women" to
men of vicious habits, it actively encourages those vicious habits;
and since these diseases are the direct outcome of such vice, the
more the vice itself is encouraged the more the diseases resulting
therefrom will increase in frequency.

The treachery and perfidy of the profession that this Ordinance was
in large measure one intended to "protect" poor slaves, is clearly
exposed in this letter of Dr. Bridges. "There will be less difficulty"
in operating the measure because the women are not "free agents!" The
very success of the measure, their own language betrays, depended
upon their servitude. Then were they likely to strike a blow at that
slavery? Their measure would, then, of course, lead to an increase and
not to a mitigation of the hardships of servitude. They had "fewer
rights to be interfered with" in Hong Kong "than could he found
elsewhere." Away with a measure of "protection" which finds its chief
source of gratulation in the curtailed rights of the "protected!"

The much-vaunted "protection" of the slaves, through medical
surveillance, became limited at once to a certain class who associated
with foreigners, whose interests were supposed to be "protected" by
that surveillance. Nevertheless from that time almost to the present
hour whenever it has been proposed to discontinue the compulsory
medical examination, officials have raised a cry of pity for the poor
slave-girls who would be left without "protection."

Since each registered house was to pay a fee to the Colonial
Government, which was turned into the fund to meet general expenses
(although the express reading of the Ordinance was against this
practice), this gave additional reason for registering all immoral
houses, beyond their being listed for the compulsory examinations,
hence all houses of prostitution were registered whether for
foreigners or for Chinese.

The Commission's report says: "This Ordinance seems to have been
worked with energy by all concerned. Dr. Murray, who assumed charge of
the Lock Hospital on the 1st of May, 1857,... discharged his duty with
undoubted zeal. The Magistrates certainly threw no obstruction in the
way of the working of the Ordinance; and the Government having, at a
very early stage, determined that its efficacy 'should have a fair
trial,' it doubtless received it at all hands."

During the ten years this law was in operation, there were 411
prosecutions, of which 140 were convictions for keeping unregistered
houses, or houses outside the prescribed bounds. Fines were inflicted
for these offenses and others, adding considerably to the amount
collected regularly each month from each registered house. The
Superintendent of Police, having refused to allow his force to operate
as inspectors of brothels, in 1860 the first inspector was appointed,
and he engaged an English policeman named Barnes to render services as
an informer. This man brought charges in two cases, as to unlicensed
(unregistered) brothels. The second case ended in acquittal,
manifestly on the ground that the charges were trumped up. In the same
year another inspector, Williams, acted as informer, and secured a
conviction against a woman. Later, an inspector by the name of Peam,
who succeeded Williams, employed police constables as informers, and
lent them money for the purpose. All these performed their tasks in
"plain clothes," as was the practice through subsequent years. In
1861, constables (Europeans) acted frequently as informers, and in
one instance the Acting Registrar General,--in other words, the
"Protector,"--played the role of informer. He took a European
constable with him to a native house and caused him to commit adultery
there, and on this evidence prosecuted the woman for keeping an
unregistered brothel. During this year, an inspector named Johnson
presented a woman with a counterfeit dollar, and because she accepted
the money she was condemned as a keeper of an unregistered house, and
fined twenty-five dollars. This sum she would be less able to pay than
the average American woman ten times as much, so low are wages in that

In 1862, an inspector of brothels, a policeman, and the Bailiff of
the Supreme Court, acted as informers; also in eleven cases European
constables in plain clothes, and on two occasions a master of a ship.
In 1863 the sworn belief alone of the inspector secured convictions in
10 cases. In 1864, as far as the records show, public money was first
used by informers to induce women to commit adultery with them, in
order to secure their conviction, fine them, and enroll their abodes
as registered brothels. Inspector Jones and Police Sergeant Daly,
having spent ten dollars in self-indulgence in native houses, the
Government reimbursed them and punished the women.

In 1865, on three separate occasions, the "Protector," (Acting
Registrar General Deane), "declared" houses, nine in number. Soon any
sort of testimony was gladly welcomed, and Malays, East Indians and
Chinese all turned informers, and money was not only given them with
which to open the way for debauchery, but awards upon conviction of
the women with whom they consorted. "The Chinese used for this work
were chiefly Lokongs, [native police constables], Inspector Peterson's
servant and a cook at No. 8 Police Station. The depositions show
that in at least five cases the police and their informers received
rewards. Three times their exertions were remunerated by sums of
twenty dollars, although in one of these instances the evidence was
apparently volunteered. Arch and Collins [Europeans] once got five
dollars each, and Chinese constables received similar amounts." In
many of these cases the immorality on the part of the informers who
brought the charges seems to have been unblushingly stated. "The
zeal of inspectors of brothels and informers had been stimulated by
occasional solid rewards from the Bench, and the numerous prosecutions
commenced seldom failed to end in conviction and substantial

Ten years after the Ordinance of 1857 had been in operation, the
Registrar General, C.C. Smith, wrote:

"There is another matter connected with the brothels, licensed
and unlicensed, in Hong Kong, which almost daily assumes a graver
aspect. I refer to what is no less than the trafficking in human
flesh between the brothel-keepers and the vagabonds of the Colony.
Women are bought and sold in nearly every brothel in the place.
They are induced by specious pretexts to come to Hong Kong, and
then, after they are admitted into the brothels, such a system of
espionage is kept over them, and so frightened do they get, as to
prevent any application to the police. They have no relatives, no
friends to assist them, and their life is such that, unless goaded
into unusual excitement by a long course of ill-treatment, they
sink down under the style of life they are forced to adopt, and
submit patiently to their masters. But cases have occurred where
they have run away, and placed themselves in the hands of the
police; who, however, can do nothing whatever toward punishing the
offenders for the lack of evidence, the women being afraid to
tell their tale in open court. Women have, it is true, willingly
allowed themselves to be sold for some temporary gain; but that
brothel-keepers should be allowed to enter into such transactions
is of serious moment. I have myself tried to fix such a case on
more than one brothel-keeper, but failed to do so, though there
was no doubt of the transaction, as I held the bill of sale. The
only mode of action I had under the circumstances was to cancel
the license of the house. In the interest of humanity, too, it
might be enacted that any brothel-keeper should be liable to a
fine for having on his or her premises any child under 15 years of

This statement as to the increase of slavery under this Ordinance is
just what might have been expected, but it is especially valuable as
made by the Registrar General who knew most about the matter, and it
contains most damaging admissions against himself, for as the Colonial
Secretary, W.T. Mercer, states in a foot-note in the State document
printing the Registrar General's statement: "Surely the bill of sale
here would have been sufficient evidence." It is plainly to be seen
from such statements that after a few efforts to take advantage of
anti-slavery laws at Hong Kong, after a few appeals to the police for
protection and liberty, slave girls would learn by terrible experience
to cease all such efforts. Think of the fate of a girl when thrust
back into the hands of her cruel master or mistress, by the heartless
indifference of the "Protector," after having ventured to go to the
length of producing her bill of sale into slavery. We should remember
these things, when we hear of American officials going through
Chinatown and asking the girls if they wish to come away, and in case
they do not at once declare they wish it, reporting that there are no
slave girls in Chinatown. These poor creatures have been trained in a
hard school, and have no reason to believe that any foreign officials
have the least interest in helping to obtain their liberty. And if
they cannot secure protection by complaint, far better never admit
that there is reason for complaint.

Note the calm admission of the Registrar General that nothing was
being done to prevent the rearing of children in these registered
brothels, where every detail was subject to Government surveillance.
"It might be enacted," says the "Protector," that such a
brothel-keeper should be "liable to a fine!" But why, in the face of
such frank acknowledgement of the existence of slavery, were not the
Queen's proclamation against slavery, and the many other enactments of
the same sort, enforced? Listen, and we will tell why. These officials
believed _vice was necessary_, and as there was no class of "fallen
women," in our understanding of the term, the Oriental prostitute
being a literal slave, then _slavery was necessary_ when it ministered
to the vices of men. Hence the Government-registered brothels were
filled with women slaves. As to the unregistered brothels, the
"protected woman" protected that, and also the nursery of purchased
and stolen children being brought up and trained for the slave market,
excepting those children which, as we have seen, were being trained in
the registered houses. If an officer attempted to enter the house of
a "protected woman," he was told: "This is not a brothel. This is the
private family residence of Mr. So and So," mentioning the name of
some foreigner. Thus the foreigners who kept Chinese mistresses
furnished, in effect, that protection to slavery that led the Chinese
to go forward so boldly in their business of buying and kidnaping
children. Even when women were brought into court for keeping
unregistered brothels, and although they were keeping them, yet if
they could show that they were "protected women," they had a fair show
of being acquitted.

Legislative enactments directed to the object of making the practice
of vice healthy for men are called, in popular language, "Contagious
Diseases Acts," because that was the first name given them. But of
late years all such laws have met with such bitter opposition, that,
like an old criminal, the measures seek to hide themselves under all
sorts of _aliases_. Mrs. Josephine Butler describes such legislation
in general in the following simple, lucid manner:

"By this law, policemen,--not the local police, but special
Government police, in plain clothes,--are employed to look after
all the poor women and girls in a town and its neighborhood. These
police spies have power to take up any woman they please, on
_suspicion_ that she is not a moral woman, and to register her
name on a shameful register as a prostitute. She is then forced to
submit to the horrible ordeal of a personal examination of a kind
which cannot be described here. It is an act on the part of the
Government doctor such as would be called an indecent or criminal
assault if any other man were to force it upon a woman. And it is
the _State_ which forces this indecent assault on the persons of
the helpless daughters of the poor.

"If a woman refuses to submit to it, she is punished by
imprisonment, with or without hard labor, _until_ she does submit.

"If, after she has endured this torture, she is found to be healthy
and well, she is set free, with a certificate that she is _fit
to practice prostitution_; but observe, she is never more a free
woman, for her name is on the register of Government prostitutes,
and she is strictly under the eye of the police, and is bound to
come up periodically,--it may be weekly or fortnightly,--to be
again outraged.

"If she is found to have signs of disease, she is sent to a
hospital, which is practically a prison, where she is kept as
long as the doctors please. She may be kept for weeks or months,
without any choice of her own. When cured, she is again set free
with her certificate. During the first years of this law, a
certificate on paper was given to every woman who had passed
through this cruel ordeal; on this paper was the name of the
woman, and the date of the last examination. The Abolitionist
party, however, represented so strongly the shame of the whole
proceeding, that the Government ordered that the piece of paper
or ticket should not be given to the women any longer. But this
change made no real difference, for it was well known that
the women were forced to submit to the outrage of enforced
examination.... You know that every criminal,--murderer, or thief,
or any other,--has the benefit of the law; he or she is allowed an
open trial, at which witnesses are called, and a legal advocate
appears for the defense of the accused. But these State slaves
are allowed no trial. It is enough that the police suspects and
accuses them; then they are treated as criminals.... It will be
clear to you that this law is not for simple healing, as Christ
would have us to heal, caring for all, whatever their character
or whatever their disease. This law is invented to _provide
beforehand_ that men may be able to sin without bodily injury (if
that were possible, which it is not). If a burglar, who had broken
into my house and stolen my goods, were to fall and be hurt, I
would be glad to get him into a hospital and have him nursed and
cured; but I would not put a ladder up against my window at night
and leave the windows open in order that he might steal my goods
without danger of breaking his neck.

"You will see clearly, also, the cowardliness and unmanliness of
this law, inasmuch as it sacrifices women to men, the weak to the
strong; that it deprives the woman of all that she has in life, of
liberty, character, law, even of life itself (for it is a process
of slow murder to which she is subjected), for the supposed
benefit of men who are mean enough to avail themselves of this
provision of lust.

"Besides being grossly unjust, as between men and women, this law
is a piece of class legislation of an extreme kind. The position
and wealth of men of the upper classes place the women belonging
to them above any chance of being accused of prostitution. Ladies
who ride in carriages through the street at night are in no danger
of being molested. But what about working women? what about the
daughters, sisters and wives of working men, out, it may be, on
an errand of mercy at night? and what, most of all, of that girl
whose father, mother, friends are dead or far away, who is
struggling hard, in a hard world, to live uprightly and justly
by the work of her own hands,--is she in no danger of this law?
Lonely and friendless, and poor, is she in no danger of a false
accusation from malice or from error? especially since under this
law _homeless_ girls are particularly marked out as just subjects
for its operation; and if she is accused, what has she to rely on,
under God, except that of which this law deprives her, the appeal
to be tried 'by God and my country,' by which it is understood
that she claims the judicial means of defense to which the law of
the land entitles her?

"I will only add that this law has a fatally corrupting influence
over the male youth of every country where it is in force. It
warps the conscience, and confuses the sense of right and wrong.
When the State raises this immoral traffic into the position of a
lawful industry, superintended by Government officials, what are
the young and ignorant to think? They cannot believe that that
which the Government of the country allows, and makes rules for,
and superintends, is really wrong."

Such measures as these have acquired a foothold in the United States
more than once, but have been driven out again. They are proposed
every year almost, at some State Legislature, and often have been
proposed at several different legislatures during a single year. They
are in operation, to some extent at least, under the United States
flag at Hawaii, in the Philippines, and at Porto Rico. The enforcement
of the Acts must depend to a large extent upon the co-operation of the
male fornicator with the police and officers of the law, and places
good women and girls terribly in the power of malicious or designing

It appears from official records, that in Hong Kong, during six months
in 1886-7, out of 139 women denounced by British soldiers and sailors
as having communicated contagion, 102 were on examination found free
from disease, and only 37 to be diseased; and during a similar
period in 1887-8, out of 103 women that were denounced, 101 were on
examination found free from disease and only two diseased. We can
judge from this of both the worthlessness of the measure for tracing
diseased women, and the mischievousness of the measure as an aid to
libertines in getting girls they are endeavoring to seduce so injured
in reputation that they can easily capture their prey.

As a sanitary measure, the Acts have invariably proved a failure, as
shown by honestly handled statistics. There have, to be sure, been
many doctors, some of high scientific qualifications, who have
produced statistics strongly tending to prove the sanitary benefits
of such measures on superficial survey. But these statistics have
afterwards been shown to be mistakenly handled or designedly
manipulated to make such a showing. This is not a medical book, and
any extended treatment of figures as to disease would be entirely out
of place in it, so we will content ourselves by saying that during
late years physicians of prominence from every part of the world have
assembled twice at Brussels for Conferences in regard to this matter.
These physicians are in large numbers Continental doctors, the very
ones who have had most to do in enforcing such measures. Each time
the number of opponents to the Contagious Diseases Acts has rapidly
increased, after listening to the testimony from all sides as to
their inutility; in fact, the whole force of opinion at each of these
Conferences, in 1899 and 1902, was against State Regulation, though
there was a division of opinion as to the substitute for it.

In 1903, the Minister of the Interior of France, the country where
these Acts originated, nominated an extra-Parliamentary Commission to
go thoroughly into these questions. This Commission held its numerous
sittings in 1905, and in the end by almost a two-thirds' majority
condemned the existing system of regulation in France, and furthermore
rejected the alternative proposal of notification with compulsory
treatment, by sixteen votes to one. In reporting on the Conferences
held in Brussels, the _Independence Belge_ said, in a leading article:
"Regulation is visibly decaying, and the fact is the more striking
because the country that instituted it (France) is at present the one
that meets it with the most ardent hostility."



In 1866 the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell,
determined upon the repeal of Ordinance 12, 1857, in order to
inaugurate "a more vigorous policy of coercion," (says the
Commission's report): "The key note of the new regime was struck by
the Governor's first minute on the subject, dated 20th October, 1866,
in which he wrote he was 'anxious early to introduce to the Council an
amended Brothel Ordinance, conferring _necessarily_ almost despotic
powers on the Registrar General." ... Be it said to the honor of
Attorney General (now Sir Julian) Pauncefote, that in the face of this
he urges the most weighty objections to the policy of "subjecting
persons to fine and imprisonment without the safeguards which surround
the administration of justice in a public and open court." But these
objections were not allowed to prevail.

It appears that some hesitation was felt on the part of the home
authorities in giving approval to the new ordinance. It may have been
the warning given by Attorney General Pauncefote, it may have been
something else. Whatever it was, the Commission informs us: "The
Ordinance 10 of 1867 received its final sanction when the conclusion
arrived at by the Colonial Government was before the home authorities,
showing that in the event of the ordinance becoming law, _revenue
would be derived_ from the tainted source of prostitution among the
Chinese." (The italics are the authors').

Ordinance 10, 1867 now came into operation, with the following
additional powers in the hands of the "Protector" of Chinese, the
Registrar General:

1st, Not only were keepers of unregistered houses to be fined or
sent to prison, but the women--"held in practical slavery for the
purposes of prostitution"--when found in unregistered houses were
also subject to fine and imprisonment.

2nd, The Registrar-General, otherwise the "Protector" of Chinese,
could break into any house suspected of being a brothel, and
arrest the keeper thereof without warrant. And he could authorize
his underlings to do the same.

3rd, The Registrar General could exercise both judicial and
executive powers in the prosecution of the duties of his office.

4th, All outdoor prostitutes could be arrested without warrant,
fined and imprisoned.

The new law possessed one virtue over the old. It frankly, and
more honestly, employed the word "licensed," where the old law
said "registered," brothels.

The report of the Commission says:

"Although the new Ordinance conferred such extensive and unusual
powers on the Registrar General and Superintendent of Police as to
breaking into and entering houses and arresting keepers without
warrant, no serious difficulty whatever, so far as the records
show,--and we have paid special attention to the point,--seems to
have been experienced under the previous enactments in bringing
the keepers of such houses before the court.... Nor can we in
the second place find among the foregoing records proof of the
necessity of the transfer to the Registrar General of the judicial
powers.... As a matter of fact, witnesses do not seem to have been
at all squeamish in divulging repulsive details in open Court,
nor, on the other hand, do the magistrates ever seem to have shown
too exacting a disposition as to the nature or amount of the
evidence they required to sustain convictions; and the astonishing
system of detection which had grown up had met, so far as we can
see, with neither discouragement nor remonstrance."

We pause to lift our hearts to God in prayer before venturing to lift
the curtain and disclose even a faint outline of the reign of terror
now instituted over poor, horror-stricken Chinese women of the humbler
ranks of life at Hong Kong. But, in order that we may understand the
conditions under which the slave women coming to our Pacific Coast
have lived in times past, the recital is necessary. Happy for us if we
never needed to know any of these dark chapters of human history and
human wrongs! Sad indeed for the thoughtless, and bringing only harm,
if such an account as we have to give should be read merely out of
curiosity or for entertainment. There is either ennoblement or injury
in what we have to say, according to the spirit brought to the task
of reading it. Think quietly, then, dear reader, for one moment. From
what motive will you read our recital? We do not write what is lawful
to the merely inquisitive. Then, will you continue to read from a
worthier motive? If not, we pray you, close the book, and pass it on
to someone more serious minded. Our message is only for those who will
hear with the desire to help. But do not say: "I am too ignorant as to
what to do, I am too weak, or I am too lowly, and without talents or
influence." No, you are not. There is a place for you to help. God
will show it to you, if this book does not suggest a practicable plan
for you. What we wish to accomplish, and what we must accomplish, if
at all, by just such aid as you can give, sums itself up in this: We
must make our officers of the law understand that _the question of
slavery has been settled once for all_ in the United States, by
the Civil War, and we will have none of it again. It will never be
tolerated under the Stars and Stripes; and when you can think of
nothing else to do, you can always go aside and cry to the Judge of
all the earth to "execute righteousness and judgment for all that are
oppressed," as He has promised to do, if we but call upon Him.

Now read on with a heart full of courage, not caring for the haunting
pain that will be left when you lay the book aside. What others have
had to suffer, you can at least endure to hear about, in order to put
a check upon like suffering in the future, and in our own land, too.
A country bathed in blood as ours has once been has met already its
terrible judgment for not throttling the monster, Slavery, in its
infancy, before it cost so much blood and treasure. We will be wiser
another time, and refuse to trifle with such great wrongs. We cannot
brave the Omnipotent wrath in a second judgment for the same offense,
lest He say to us: "Ye have not hearkened unto Me, in proclaiming
liberty, everyone to his brother, and every man to his neighbor;
behold, I proclaim a liberty unto you, saith the Lord, to the sword
and to the pestilence and to the famine."

From the first days of the enactment of this measure, and all the way
through until 1877, the inspectors of brothels had standing orders to
enter any native house that they suspected of containing any women
of loose character, and arrest its inmates in accordance with the
following plan: The inspector would secure an accomplice, called an
informer, or often more than one. The accomplice would enter a native
house plentifully supplied with marked money out of the Secret Service
Fund. This accomplice was often a friend or relative of the family he
called upon. He would often offer them a feast and drinks, and send
to a near-by restaurant and procure them at Government expense. After
feasting and drinking, he would try to induce some woman of the house
to consort with him, showing her a sufficient sum of money to fairly
dazzle her eyes. This he could well afford to do, for the Government
put the money in his hands to offer, and if the woman accepted, it
would not be a loss to the Government, for it would be taken back
again afterwards. Perhaps some poor half-starved creature would yield
to the tempter; perhaps some heathen man would press his wife to
accept the offer, in his greed for the money; perhaps some foolish
young girl would think she had suddenly come into great fortune in
having a man of such great wealth proposing marriage to her. It must
not be forgotten that the poorest people in China often marry in
a manner which is _almost devoid of all ceremony_, and yet it is
considered perfectly right and honorable, and the couple remain
faithful to each other afterwards. It is not unlikely, then, a young
woman might, with the consent of her parents, look upon such a
proposal as this as about to eventuate in real marriage, if it were so
put before her. No such thing as courting ever takes place in China,
previous to marriage. In other cases, doubtless, the informer who had
thus intruded himself for the basest reasons into a native house,
might really find a woman of loose character there. It were certainly
more to the credit of such a woman that she was in hiding, and
preferred it to flaunting her shame in a licensed house of infamy.
What business have Governments hounding down these women, tearing away
their last shred of decency and obliging them if inclining to go wrong
to sink at once to the lowest depths of infamy? But that is what the
attempt to localize vice in one section of a town, or to legalize it
always means. When the informer at Hong Kong had insinuated himself
into a native house and by means of the bait of "marked money" caught
a victim and sinned with her, at once he threw open the window and
summoned the Inspector, who was in waiting outside, who would rush
in and arrest all the women and girls in the house, down to children
often only 13 or 14 years old. This was not all according to law, but
it seems to have been the regular practice. Says Mr. Lister, who was
Registrar General for the first year after the Ordinance of 1867 came
into operation: "As a general rule, the first thing I knew of a case
of an unlicensed brothel coming before me was the finding of a string
of women in my office in the morning." "Almost despotic powers" had
been put into the hands of the "Registrar General," and these were
some of the results. The "marked money" that had caught the victim
would now be sanctimoniously taken away from her and restored to the
Secret Service Fund. The woman would be fined or imprisoned, and the
other inmates of the house put through trial as accused of being
"common prostitutes" and inmates of an unlicensed brothel, and if the
Registrar General so decided, the house from which they came declared
in the Government Gazette as a licensed house of prostitution. The
keepers of licensed brothels, slave-dealers, procurers and such
characters hung around the court room to help these women pay their
fines, and so get them under bonds to work off these fines by
prostitution. Sometimes the women sold their children instead of
themselves. If boys, for "adoption," as it is called; a form of
slavery which is permitted in Hong Kong. If girls, into domestic
slavery or worse, probably with the thought that they could buy them
back soon, but if the mother herself went the daughter would be sure
to be caught by kidnapers, or fall into prostitution anyway, as the
only means she would have of getting along without her mother's
protection. Mr. Lister said before the Commission: "I became
suspicious of the whole system of convictions against houses for
Chinese. I was certain that the informers could not be depended on
for one moment. My inspector employed his own boatmen as informers.
I became convinced that _I could lock up the whole Chinese female
population by this machinery_." Married men were often knowingly hired
on Government money to commit adultery with native women, then the
money would be taken away from the woman and she could not even have
that toward her fine, while the man would be given a further reward
for hunting down an "unlicensed woman." Quickly, strong organizations
of brothel-keepers were formed, and the whole infernal system from
that day to this of brothel slavery passed under the secret management
of "capitalists"--Chinese merchants of large means.

We have made a general statement as to abuses; now for some specified
details. Sometimes the inspectors took their turn as informers, and
often men of higher official rank did so, even to the Registrar
General himself. In 1868, Inspectors Peterson and Jamieson visited
houses as informers, dressed in plain clothes. Jamieson went once
disguised as a soldier. Inspectors Burns, Sieir and Deane were also
employed as informers, this year. In one case, a woman escaped the
persecution of an informer who had intruded into her house by means of
ladder; in another case, a woman risked her life getting out of the
window upon a flimsy shade adjusted to keep the sun out; in another,
a woman managed to escape to the roof; one poor creature let herself
down to the ground from an upper window by means of a spout. When
women were ready to take such risks as these (and undoubtedly the
official records would mention only a few such cases out of the many)
rather than be compelled to keep open houses of prostitution, one
would have thought it would have counted as some proof of the
respectable character of the women,--but it does not seem to have been
reckoned so. The women were generally driven into the business of
keeping an open house of prostitution anyway, and the Government
benefited in cash by just so much more.

"It may be mentioned here," says the report of the Commission, from
which we cull these cases, "that from this date (July 6th, 1868) the
practice has apparently prevailed of apprehending all the women found
in unlicensed brothels" (in more correct language, those houses
penetrated into by informers and reported to the Registrar as
brothels). These accusations were not always true, by any means. Seven
women were apprehended at one time during this year, on the charge of
a watchman, that they kept and were inmates of an unlicensed brothel,
"the chief witness being a child 10 years old ... five of the women
were married, and two, children of 13 and 14 years old, are described
as unmarried." They were all, even the children, convicted, and
sent to the Lock Hospital for the indecent examination, in order to
determine if they were in proper health to practice vice. Afterwards
the Registrar concluded that the case had been got up by the watchman
to extort money from the women. But the establishment of their
innocence did not put them right again. Think of the horrible ordeal
and the dirty court details through which these young girls had been
put, on the testimony of a child of ten, and of a watchman determined
that they should learn to give him money when he demanded it, or he
would drive them into prostitution. One wonders how many hundreds of
respectable families were thus bled of their small incomes by the vile
informers who were being rewarded by Government for their extortion.
Imagine the terror that respectable Chinese women suffered, knowing
that any man might denounce them, out of malice, and thereby reduce
them to the very worst conceivable form of slavery! Within a few
years, nearly all the respectable Chinese women had disappeared from
Hong Kong. Chief Inspector Whitehead testified before the Commission:
"When an unlicensed brothel [i.e., a native house accused of being
such] is broken up, the women have to resort to prostitution in most
cases for a living." During 1869, one poor woman signed a bond to
deport herself for five years rather than be taken to the Lock
Hospital. But the "protected women," with their nursery of children
they were raising for brothel slavery, being the mistresses of
foreigners, were not persecuted in this manner, so, by a kind of mad
infatuation the Government seemed bent on encouraging and developing
immoral women and driving decent women either into prostitution, or,
by the reign of terror, out of the Colony. In 1869, five women
were charged before the Registrar General, and three of them were
discharged as innocent. Then the Registrar General decided _to make
the punishment of the first of the remaining two depend upon the state
of health of the second_. This second was examined and found diseased,
and in consequence of that fact, the first one was fined fifty dollars
or two months' imprisonment! The Commission speaks of this as a
"somewhat curious" case. We wonder how the punished woman described
it. Afterwards, the case was reopened, and "evidence was given
calculated to throw the gravest doubts on the credibility of the
informers" against these five women. What was then done? Were the
informers punished for giving false evidence designed to work
incalculable injury to five innocent women? Not at all. A few days
later the same informers were employed again as witnesses, and secured
the conviction of three more women. In one case, in 1870, it was
proved that an informer had entered a house and made an indecent
assault upon a woman, doubtless expecting to get his reward as usual.
But he was fined ten pounds instead. But how many others may have
done the same thing under circumstances where a sufficient number of
witnesses to the assault could not be produced. And then, the man
would be rewarded and the woman forced at once to take up her
residence in a licensed house of shame. The Acting Registrar General
played the part of informer during 1870, and punished as judge the
woman he accused before himself,--for the law, as we have said, that
came into force in 1867 gave the Registrar General both prosecuting
and judicial powers. He probably also induced the woman on Government
money to commit adultery with him. Then as the judge he would
confiscate the money again, and give her a fine of fifty dollars
instead. We wonder if he likewise gave himself a "substantial award
from the bench," as the Registrar General was accustomed to give other
informers when they succeeded in getting evidence sufficient for
conviction. It is noticed by the Commission that one woman this same
year escaped by the roof at the peril of her life. No one knows how
many more may have done the same.

An inspector, Peterson, and a constable, Rylands, each induced women
on the street to accept money of them, and these women were punished
as prostitutes in hiding and not registered. Two prosecutions during
this same year are mentioned as having been instituted from malice.
One woman jumped from her window and severely injured herself, trying
to escape Inspector Douglass. One woman dared to assault an informer
who was after her, and was punished by ten days' imprisonment, with
hard labor. Inspector Jamieson brought charges against three women
for obstructing him in the discharge of his official duties, and was
himself found guilty of illegal conduct.

In the records of 1871 is the case of two men who had a falling out,
Alfred Flarey and Police Constable Charles Christy, for some reason
not mentioned. Each of these men kept a private mistress. Flarey
went to an inspector, and obtained money to be used in tempting the
mistress of Christy. He then accused her before the courts, she was
condemned, and paid a fine of ten dollars. On the following day,
Christy appeared in court against the mistress of Flarey, with two
fellow-policemen, to describe their own vileness in order to get
revenge on Flarey by depriving him of his mistress and reducing her to
the level of a common prostitute. The woman was discharged, indicating
that it was a trumped up case. The Commission's report, in describing
the details declares: "The law, in these two instances, was put in
motion obviously for the vilest of purposes."

In 1872, Inspector Lee, who had become an inspector in 1870, and
of whom we shall have more to say, acted himself as informer, and
employed his boy twice in the same capacity. Inspector Horton acted as
informer eleven times, and Inspector King four times. During this year
the Registrar General so far forgot that there was even a sanitary
pretext for the Ordinance for the law he was set to operate as
to employ as an informer one Vincent Greaves, whom he knew to be
diseased. From about this time on, many cases of conviction were
secured against women where it was evident the matter had gone no
further than that they had accepted the marked money of the informers,
or, as was actually proved in some cases, this marked Government money
had been secreted by the informers in the rooms occupied by women.
Inspector Lee in one instance found the money on a table in a room
into which an informer had insinuated himself. The woman denied having
ever accepted it of him, yet she was convicted on that evidence alone.
With rewards offered to men of the lowest character, who would secure
the conviction of women so that the latter could be forced into the
life of open prostitution, all the presumptive evidence should have
turned such a case as this against the informer. Many similar cases
of the conviction of women of being keepers and inmates of secret
brothels, were secured on this sort of evidence. One young girl of 14
was entrapped by marked money being found in her toilet table. The
court records showed that this was the second time she had been
entrapped in this manner. This second time she was convicted and sent
to the Lock Hospital where, upon examination, exceptional conditions
demonstrated beyond doubt that she was still a virgin. But what of the
many young girls with whom exceptional conditions did not exist, when
_they_ were brought to the examination table?

During the year 1873, two women were severely injured by jumping out
of their windows to escape the informers. One fractured her leg.

The cook of Inspector King testified in the Registrar General's court:
"Yesterday I received orders of Mr. King to go to Wanchai, and see if
I could catch some unlicensed prostitutes." This man was employed,
and his employer orders him off to this wicked business, and he must
either obey or take his discharge. A Chinese servant ordered to go
commit adultery by the man who employed him as his cook. These things
were constantly done by employers of Chinese men. Yet these native
servants are all married men, for they marry so young in the Orient.
And Government money was furnished them besides to pay for the
debauchery, and if they brought in a good case for prosecution they
got a reward in money besides. So this cook is ordered off by his
master to "catch some unlicensed prostitutes," with the same _sang
froid_ as though ordered to go catch some fish for dinner. The cook
seemed to know where to get the most ardent assistance for the task
his employer had set him, for he says: "I got the assistance of a man
who is master of a licensed brothel in Wanchai." To be sure; who would
be so interested in capturing women and getting them condemned to go
and live in a house licensed by the Government as the man in the town
at the head of the licensed house? The cook was given a dollar as
bait, with which to catch the woman. Inspector Lee, who followed up
the men to make sure of the capture, found the dollar given by King
to his cook "lying on the bed" in the room occupied by the women,
and they were convicted on no other evidence than this and Lee's

Private Michael Smith of the 80th Regiment was given four dollars by
Inspector Morton and instructed to go to a certain Mrs. Wright at
her quarters, and try to debauch her; he drank brandy with her [at
Government expense?] from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., but failed in his
errand. Why did she not turn him out of the house? Women were
frequently fined for daring to resent the aggressions of these
informers. In one case a man was struck for trying to obstruct the
arrest of a girl of 14, and later was punished. This girl was proved
to be a virgin afterwards. Many women and girls, against whom there
was no sufficient evidence, were sent to the Lock Hospital for
examination in order to determine in that manner their character. In
half-a-dozen cases or so, it is recorded that the result determined
the virginity of the person. But such a test as this rests upon the
accidental presence of an exceptional condition among even virgins,
and what became of those who did not answer to the exceptional test,
and yet were as pure as the rest? They would everyone of them be
consigned to the fate of a brothel slave.

One informer, "with the assistance of public money, and in the
interests of justice," according to the Commission's report, sinned
with a child of fifteen in order to get her name on the register.
Inspector Horton bargained for the deflowering of a virgin of 15, "in
the interests of justice," with the owner of the slave child. The
child as well as the owner were then taken to the Lock Hospital, where
the latter was proved to be a virgin. A Chinese informer consorted
with a girl named Tai-Yau "against her will, which led to his being
rewarded, and to her being fined one hundred dollars." She was unable
to pay the fine, and sold her little boy in part payment for it, in
order to escape a life of prostitution.

But need we go into further painful details? There are hundreds more
of such cases of cruel wrong on record, and God alone knows how many
thousands of cases there are that have never been put on record. We
only aim to give a case here and there in illustration of the many
forms of cruelty practiced upon innocent women in order to force them
into prostitution, and to demonstrate that brothel slavery at Hong
Kong cannot truthfully be represented as the outcome of Chinese
customs which foreign officials have found difficulty in altering.

But why should Americans be called upon to acquaint themselves with
such loathsome details? In order that Americans may have some just
conception of their duty toward the large number of these poor,
unhappy slaves who have been brought from Hong Kong to their own



Sir John Pope Hennessy went to Hong Kong as Governor of the Colony in
the early Spring of 1877. In the following October a tragedy occurred,
which drew his attention to the administration of the Registrar
General, and he set himself to the task of trying to right some of the
wrongs of the Chinese women.

The case last mentioned in the previous chapter related to a woman
by the name of Tai-Yau, whom an informer humbled "against her will,"
which led to his being rewarded and her being fined $100, to pay which
she sold her little boy. This seems to have been the only way open for
her to escape a life of prostitution. To make this point clear, we
will here insert the explanation of conditions given by Dr. Eitel in
a communication for the information of Governor Hennessy at a little
later period than the incident we are about to relate. He speaks of
Chinese women who secretly practiced prostitution [but, as we have
shown, many respectable Chinese women suffered also], as

"preyed upon by informers paid with Government money, who would
first debauch such women and then turn against them, charging them
before the magistrate under the Ordinance 10, 1867, before the
Registrar General as keepers of unlicensed brothels in which case
a heavy fine would be inflicted, to pay which these women used to
sell their children, or sell themselves into bondage worse than
ordinary slavery, to the keepers of brothels licensed by the
Government. Whenever a so-called sly brothel was broken up these
keepers would crowd the shroff's office [money exchanger's office]
of the police court or the visiting room of the Government Lock
Hospital to drive their heartless bargains, _which were
invariably enforced with the weighty support of the inspectors of
brothels_,[A] appointed by Government under the Contagious
Diseases Ordinance. The more this Ordinance was enforced, the more
this buying and selling of human flesh went on at the very doors
of Government offices."

[Footnote A: We italicise this to call attention to the active part
officials took in encouraging slavery.]

We can then readily imagine Tai-Yau as sentenced to pay her fine of
one hundred dollars, and nothing to pay with. The money exchanger's
office next the court room was crowded with slave-dealers, waiting to
offer to pay the fines of such unhappy creatures, and she probably
turned to them. If she were sent to jail what would become of her
little boy? And if she sold herself to the licensed brothel-keepers,
as the inspectors of brothels were urging her to do, the fate of her
boy would be even worse. She could see a hope that if she sold the boy
for "adoption," a form of slavery the Hong Kong Government permitted,
of which we will tell more,--then if she had her freedom she could at
least hope to redeem him some time. So the little fellow was sold
for about forty dollars, and she went away sixty dollars in
debt,--probably to the brothel-keepers, who would never let her out
of their sight until, through the debt and the interest thereon, they
would in time be enabled to seize her as their slave. But she went out
hoping for some honest way of earning the money, or else she would
have bargained with them at once to work off the debt by prostitution.
But what could a Chinese woman do in the face of such a debt? A
painter's wages at Hong Kong at this time were five dollars a month. A
woman's wages at any respectable occupation would not have been more
than half that amount. Ten cents a day would be a fair computation.
And all the time she would be trying to earn the money the debt would
be increasing by the interest on it; and her little boy would increase
more rapidly in value than in years.

All this occurred in November, 1876. About the first of October, 1877,
nearly a year later, she engaged a single room for herself and a
servant[A] at 42 Peel street, of a woman named Lau-a Yee. Mrs. Lau,
the landlady, had the top floor of a little house. Another family
had the first floor, and the street door leading up to Mrs. Lau's
apartments ended in a trap door which was shut down at night. There
were also folding doors half way up the stairway, not reaching to the
ceiling, however, that could be locked at night to make the place
doubly secure from intruders. The little upper flat consisted of only
three rooms. Mrs. Lau occupied the front room, and her servant woman
slept on the floor in the passage-way, and took care of Mrs. Lau's
little child. This servant woman had a friend come over from Canton to
spend the night with her and seek for employment. The middle room
was occupied by Tai Yau, the woman who had sold her little boy into
slavery, and her servant. The back room was vacant. Tai Yau was about
twenty-six years old, and her servant nearly sixty.

[Footnote A: The evidence does not make it clear how so poor a woman
should have a servant. Might she not in reality have been acting the
part of "pocket-mother" to the girl?]

On the evening of October 16th, 1877, Inspector Lee gave ten one
dollar bills to his interpreter, telling him to go out and use it in
catching unlicensed women. The interpreter found two friends and gave
one three dollars and the other seven dollars to help him in his
errand. Think of it! The man to whom the three dollars were given was
a worthless fellow who in his own words, lived "on his friends." When
he worked he earned about 14 cents a day. The other man to whom was
given seven dollars for a night of pleasure, earned five dollars a
month when he worked at his trade--painting.

These men went to an opium shop where they found a pander. Apparently
they did not know where to find unlicensed women without his help. Two
other men joined them, and they all went to No. 9 Lyndhurst Terrace,
the interpreter lingering about in waiting somewhere outside. When
two of the men learned that they had been brought with the purpose
of using their testimony against the women they withdrew. There were
three women in the house. One was of loose morals, or at any rate she
trifled with temptation; the other two managed to withdraw. A supper
of fowls, stuffed pigs' feet, sausages, eggs, and plenty of native
wine was brought in, and they feasted, the men getting under the
influence of drink. A-Nam, the pander, went out and hunted up two
more girls for the feast. Perhaps these suspected a plot, for they
withdrew. Then A-Nam went again, and returned with Tai-Yau.

It was about nine o'clock when A-Nam came to 42 Peel street and called
Tai Yau out. Mrs. Lau saw her go out with him, but was not uneasy, for
she had seen him there before as a friend of Tai Yau. Is it not quite
likely it was from him she borrowed the money? He was the kind of man
whose profession would lead him to hang around the Registrar's court
in order to get on the track of unlicensed women and to get them in
his power. If such were the case, and she owed him money, she would be
terribly in his power.[A] She went away with him to the feast near
by at No. 9 Lyndhurst Terrace, and at twelve o'clock she returned in
company with A-Nam and a strange man. Mrs. Lau was up and worshipping
in her room. She came and said to Tai Yau: "Who is this?" seeing the
strange man sitting on a chair. "What is this strange man doing here?"
Tai Yau replied, "Oh, he is a shopman and is my husband."

[Footnote A: Chief Inspector Whitehead testified before the
Commission: "When an unlicensed brothel is broken up the women have to
resort in most cases to prostitution for a living." Though the wrong
done Tai Yau had been "against her will," yet it had brought her into
court upon the charge of being a "common prostitute," and thrown her
heavily into debt. It is not unlikely she now found it almost beyond
her power to resist becoming enslaved as a prostitute.]

The name of the man with A-Nam was A-Kan, and A-Kan had been a witness
against her when she had been condemned before and fined $100. Now he
was here in her room again at this time of night, with the man who had
brought them together.

Meanwhile Inspector Lee and the interpreter who had given this A-Kan
seven dollars to entrap an unlicensed woman, were hunting along the
street below to trace the house into which A-Kan had managed to get an
entrance. They began to call "A-Kan! A-Kan!" Someone, probably quite
innocently said, "I think the man you are looking for went into the
house opposite. I saw some one enter there." This was all the clue
they had, yet on that evidence alone, Inspector Lee began to pound
on the street door of the house, No. 42. A woman on the first floor
looked out, and the Inspector ordered her to open the street door. If
she recognized him as an officer she would not have dared refuse. The
inspector and the interpreter went up the stairs, but encountered
folding doors half way up, locked across the stairs. The Inspector
managed to get over them and unlock them from the inside, and on they
went, and paused to listen beneath the trap door. They did not hear
A-Kan's voice, and did not know whether he was there. They had only
the conjecture of the woman across the street to proceed upon,
nevertheless they had forced their way into this private abode
occupied by women, knowing nothing whatever about the place, whether
it was respectable or not. At this moment Mrs. Lau heard voices of men
on her stairs, and said in alarm to A-Kan, "The inspector is coming,
looking for you, isn't he?" A-Kan said "Yes." Then Tai Yau threw
herself at the feet of A-Kan and begged for mercy, saying: "I was
arrested before and fined a hundred dollars. I sold my son to pay the
fine, and you must not say anything now." He sanctimoniously shook his
head, as though weighing his responsibility, saying: "I don't know, I
don't know." She did not recognize him, but he was the very man who
had before informed against her and secured her conviction, when she
was humbled "against her will." He now opened the trap door to let the
inspector and his interpreter in. Tai Yau exclaimed to Mrs. Lau, "He
is coming to arrest women for keeping an unlicensed brothel, let us
flee!" Tai-Yau ran up a ladder through a scuttle out upon the flat
roof of the house, her old servant following and Mrs. Lau behind. The
inspector and interpreter followed, while the informer escaped from
the house. Mrs. Lau managed to reach the hatch of the next house, No.
44, and ran down that into the street, hotly chased by the inspector.
He said in his testimony: "I pursued the woman down the trap, and
followed her right into the street. I pursued and she ran up the
steps of Peel street and up to Staunton street, and a Lokong [Chinese
constable] caught her about ten yards from Aberdeen street." Then the
occupants of the ground floor of 44 Peel street called to Inspector
Lee and told him that some people had fallen from the roof into their
cook-house, and Inspector Lee said in his testimony: "I went into the
cook-house and saw the deceased [the old servant of Tai Yau] lying on
the granite on her face, with her head close to an earthenware chatty
[water-bottle] which I pointed out, and the bundle of clothing with a
Chinese rule lying on the top of her head, or on the back of the neck.
Close beside her was another woman lying on the other side of the
chatty with her feet against the wall and her head out toward the
cook-house door. I had a Chinese candle. I took up the bundle of
clothes off deceased's head, and turned her on her back, and there
were no signs of life apparent. The other woman was bleeding from the
face, and her face and neck were covered with blood. She was moving as
if in great pain. I sent for the ambulance at once, and by this time
the whole street was aroused." The two women, Tai Yau and the old
servant, had fallen through a smoke-hole in the roof.

Tai Yau had a fractured jaw and left thigh, besides internal injuries.
She lived but ten days. The verdict rendered in each of these cases
was nearly the same. That of Tai Yau's calamity reads in part:

"Mok Tai-Yau, on the morning of the 17th of October, in the year
aforesaid, being on the roof of a house, known as 44, Peel Street,
Victoria, and having fled there in consequence of the entry of an
Inspector of Brothels into the house known as 42, Peel Street,
where she lived, accidentally and by misfortune fell down an open
area, known as a smoke-hole, unto the granite pavement beneath,
and by means thereof did receive mortal bruises, fractures and


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