Political adviser calls for review of controversial punishment for prostitution
By He Weiwei
At this year's Two Sessions, lawyer Zhu Zhengfu, a member of China's political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), submitted a proposal asking for a constitutional review of a controversial punishment for prostitution – the “custody and education system.”
This system was first introduced to combat prostitution in 1991 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Two years later in 1993, China’s State Council issued a measure to formally establish the system. During detention ranging from six months to up to two years, offenders are taught about sex-related laws and ethics and are tested and treated for sexually-transmitted diseases.
In 2014, Chinese actor Huang Haibo was put under “custody and education” for half a year due to involvement in prostitution. The issue drew broad attention and sparked open discussion in the legal circle.
Zhu thinks the punishment lacks legal basis. He submitted a proposal this year asking to review the system’s constitutionality.
Zhu Zhengfu, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) /CGTN Photo

Zhu Zhengfu, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) /CGTN Photo

“China’s Constitution protects citizens’ human rights,” Zhu Zhengfu told CGTN. “The Legislation Law stipulates that mandatory measures and penalties that limit personal freedom can only be made through laws. But the custody and education system was a regulation issued by the State Council, not a law."
Aside from that, the system is not even written in the Administrative Penalty Law. This law allows jailing and fines for sex-related offenses, but not "custody and education".
“The system means detention for up to two years,” Zhu added. “Given its heaviness, it should be listed clearly in the Administrative Penalty Law. But it’s not at the moment.”
In his report in 2017 to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping called for advancing constitutionality review. It’s the first time this word was mentioned in a report of this kind.
Through his proposal, Zhu hopes to push for the system’s abolition as soon as possible.