For our sister Xiou Qin
Our beloved friend and ally, Xiou-Qin Kuan, threw herself into the ocean at her childhood town early August. Xiou-Qin had been running an underground brothel with a few of the previously licensed prostitutes who lost their right to work when Chen Shui-bian (then Taipei mayor) summarily revoked their licenses in 1997. Being a very caring and supportive person, Xiou-qin had been helping to keep quite a few of her colleagues afloat financiallly in this time of great financial difficulty through the brothel. Recent obscenity sweeps launched by the government in an effort to salvage its image of integrity amidst investigations of corruption by the president and his family had made it extremely hard for Xiou-Qin and her friends to conduct business as usual. As debts and interest payments backed up, the loan sharks were also bearing down upon them. Being the person who shouldered such responsibilities and served as collateral, Xiou-Qin tried everything she could to stay afloat. But the difficulties were simply too formidable. Strong-spirited Xiou-Qin chose to end her life as a final gesture of protest.
For those of you who had been to Taiwan to participate in the prostitutes rights movement activities for the past 9 years, you may have met with or at least heard of the former leader of the protesting prostitutes, Xiou-Qin Kuan, who was one of the most risilient and courageous activists I have ever met. Xiou-Qin led the prostitutes and charged at the city government many many times, resulting in many bruises and cuts from police brutality. In the past 9 years, she has participated in more than 500 direct actions to fight for decriminalization and legalization of sex work. She was interviewed by Playboy and many other media and was the most outspoken spokesperson for the movement. We, her local friends, are deeply traumatized by her departure and vow to carry on with her undying wish that one day sex work would be decriminalized and sex workers would enjoy legitimacy and protection and respect.
I am sorry to bear this piece of sad news to you. If you are interested in seeing a memorial film about Xiou-Qin and her work for the prostitutes rights cause, please visit: http://www.im.tv/Vlog/personal.asp?memid=405975.
Josephine HO is professor and the chair of English Department, Central University.
Contact address: Department of English, National Central University #300, Jung-da Rd., Chung-Li, Taoyuan, Taiwan 32054