Asian Women Are Highly Sought After Because They Are Perceived By American Men As Being More Submissive.
When New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting prostitution at Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, it was billionaire names like his that made headlines. But the more significant story is that of the women whose names we may never know, Chinese immigrants who police believe were lured to America with the promise of jobs, but instead found themselves in "sexual servitude."
The Orchids of Asia Day Spa is one of 10 shut down in Florida this month with links to Chinese sex trafficking and one of more than 9,000 illicit massage businesses in the United States, according to Polaris, a non-profit that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The vast majority of women reported to have been trafficked into these contemporary brothels are from China, with the next highest group from South Korea, and others from Thailand and Vietnam, all countries with high rates of gender disparity.
"Economics are a huge contributor to how Asian women are victimized and also how they are deceived and coerced into exploitative situations," said Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, author of Hidden in Plain Sight: America’s Slaves of the New Millennium and an expert witness in criminal and civil court cases related to human trafficking.
"With that being said, Asian women are highly sought after because they are perceived by American men as being more submissive. In my interviews with commercial sex consumers, and through research into the forums where many of them post about these Asian massage parlors, they talk about their dislike of American women, who they perceive as more opinionated and more recalcitrant to their sexual and social demands."
A 2018 report from the State Department ranks China among the worst offenders of human trafficking. Experts say women in countries with high rates of gender inequality — where women's education is undervalued, women's political power is weak and the economic gap is wide — are more vulnerable to sex trafficking.
Trafficking experts say racial and sexual stereotypes of Asian women have origins in military sex tourism. Asian women sexually served US troops during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
This became the primary source of stereotypes framing Asian women as "fragile, docile, but sexually available," said Katharine Moon, a political science professor and Wasserman Chair of Asian Studies at Wellesley College. "Those three wars shaped the sexual imagination of American men."
After Japan surrendered during World War II, the country set up a brothel system for American GIs, which American authorities allowed to operate despite reports women were being forced into prostitution, a 2007 Associated Press review of historical documents found. During the Korean War, the US military frequently used South Korean prostitutes. Last year, a South Korean court ruled the government had illegally detained prostitutes who serviced American troops in the 1960s and ’70s and forced them to undergo treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
In a 2008 paper, White Sexual Imperialsm: A Theory of Asian Feminist Jurisprudence, Sunny Woan wrote that "white sexual imperialism, through rape and war, created the hyper-sexualized stereotype of the Asian woman. This stereotype in turn fostered the overprevalence of Asian women in pornography, the mail-order bride phenomenon, the Asian fetish syndrome, and worst of all, sexual violence against Asian women."