Prostitution in Macau
There are records of prostitution occurring in Macau during the 19th and 20th centuries. Prostitution is not illegal in Macau as it is in mainland China, because the city is a special administrative region. Macau's economy is based largely on tourism with significant input from gambling casinos, drugs and prostitution which has led to the city being called a Sin City. The Macau administration relies heavily on taxes from prostitution and gambling, which makes the authorities reluctant to reduce the size of the sex industry. Most hotels in Macau do not allow prostitutes to solicit on their property, and typically have suspected prostitutes removed from the premises. However, many of the city's sidewalks and underpasses are littered with prostitutes' calling cards.
Criminal involvement in prostitution in Macau was reported in the 1990s, with Chinese triad members alleged to be arranging marriages of convenience with Portuguese prostitutes in order to secure Portuguese citizenship. The control of street prostitution by criminal syndicates has occasionally led to violent conflicts. Syndicates from China are said to lure women from mainland China to work as prostitutes in Macau with false advertisements for casino jobs, work as dancers, or other types of legitimate employment. There are allegations that women are also trafficked to Macau for prostitution from Mongolia, Russia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Central Asia and South Africa. According to the United States embassy in Ulaan Bator, estimates of Mongolian sex workers in Macau vary from 200-300 women. Macau has been put on a U.S. State Department watch list for human trafficking.
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By 1845, the total number of prostitutes increased, to 123. Most were Chinese, with a minority of them being Portuguese (the Portuguese colony of Macao was near), or other nationalities. At those times, prostitutes concentrated in the
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The Central was Macao's glittering gambling casino, packed every night with Portuguese prostitutes, high rollers from Hong Kong, and hundreds of Chinese playing fan tan, their favorite card game.
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Triads in Portugal. Sources in Lisbon say that Chinese triad gangs from the Portuguese colony of Macau are setting up in Portugal ahead of the handover of Macau to China in 1999. Security sources fear that as many as 1000 triad members could settle in Portugal. They are already involved in securing Portuguese citizenship for Macau residents by arranging marriages of convenience with Portuguese prostitutes.
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