My plight as a 'prostitute'

CHINA - She is no stranger to controversy.

Just two years ago in July, Ms Ye Haiyan headed a campaign that saw several sex workers taking to the streets to demand that prostitution be legalised.

It was an eye-opener for the usually conservative Chinese society, especially when the protesters asked curious onlookers to sign a petition supporting their cause.

The police quickly stepped in. Ms Ye was detained for a day and then let off with a warning.

In seven years, she has been arrested three times because of her activism.

And shortly after she posted about her sex stint on her Weibo microblog, her account was terminated.

She says: "Of course you'd never be able to find out what really happened."

But more was to follow. In March, she received several threatening calls demanding that she shut down her office in Yulin, in Guangxi province, near her home.

She had set up the centre, Fuping Health Workshop, offering counselling services.

On another morning that month, she returned to the office to see that the signboard was destroyed.

"Not that I was really surprised, I expected there was unhappiness.

"I also wasn't surprised that I didn't ever find out who the culprits were, despite making a police report."

The harassment continued.

In May, eight men barged into the centre and attacked her. They also destroyed a cabinet and other furniture.

"It was early in the morning, my back was to the door and I was talking on the phone, so I didn't notice the men rushing in.

"They knocked over a cabinet (where condoms were kept), and pushed me against the edge of my work desk."

Ms Ye demanded to know what the men wanted.

"One of the men slapped me, while the others ransacked the office.

"As we argued, one of them pulled out a knife and pointed it at me.

"I was stunned momentarily because I didn't expect it. I mean, I didn't really think it was that serious at first."

She reacted by picking up a chair and throwing it at the man.

"I challenged the man to come and kill me if he dared, but at that moment, the first man (with the hat) threw a bicycle at me," she says.

"Luckily for me, a crowd had gathered outside and the men fled."

Ms Ye believes it was the work of the police - the legal mafia, as she calls them.

She says: "The real mafia would just kill me. They wouldn't threaten. But you are right, I don't have any evidence."

She is determined to continue with her work.

"I have done nothing wrong, so don't expect me to retreat even at the threat of death. I will continue until something is done," she declares.

"If they want me to stop, there's only one way to do so: Kill me."

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