Monday 21 March 2011

Cross-border Sex Operation Smashed

Another ambiguous headline from SCMP. On first read, I actually thought this was about illegal sex-change operations being performed across the border. Individuals in Hong Kong who are transgender have been reported by the media before.

Pic from Gizmodo, dramatizing a real case where a surgeon snapped took a picture of a patient's penis during surgery and who was then later suspended

Imagine my disappointment when the news article turned out to be just another story about pimps and prostitutes in Hong Kong and China!

The word "operation" is readily used in medical situations, so it is perhaps a good idea for reporters and sub-editors to limit its use in non-medical headlines especially if it is linked with other biomedical words such as sex (SCMP is supposed to be the leading English daily in Hong Kong, but they do goof up more regularly than not; examples here and here).

Also, was it actually the "operation" or the "gang" that was smashed? Once you read the first paragraph of the news article, the headline appears inaccurate. Would something like "Police Smash China Prostitution Ring" be an improvement?

Cross-border sex operation smashed (SCMP; paywall)
Clifford Lo
Mar 18, 2011

Police believe they have smashed a gang bringing prostitutes from the mainland to Hong Kong after arresting a man and 11 women in an undercover operation.

The 27-year-old suspected gangster was arrested in Ngau Tau Kok after the women were picked up on Wednesday night at two hotels, in Wan Chai and Kwun Tong.

Crime squad officers say they are still investigating what they believe was a gang controlled by two or three members. "The gang usually booked at least two or three hotel rooms for five or six women and put their pictures and details on a sex website with contact phone numbers," said Chief Inspector Paul Edmiston, Wan Chai district operations officer.

Callers were told to go to a hotel room for sex, he said. "When [the clients] got to the hotel there were usually two or three girls in a room. They picked the girl they wanted."

Clients were charged between HK$500 and HK$1,000, with the women keeping 40 per cent.

Police said the prostitutes worked round the clock and had up to 15 clients a day. After investigating for about two weeks, officers posing as clients were sent to the hotels.

Police arrested the man in his flat in Choi Yat House, on the Choi Ha Estate in Ngau Tau Kok. They believe he directed clients to the hotels and collected money.

Six women arrested in Wan Chai will appear in Eastern Court today.


  1. aimlesswanderer21 March 2011 at 19:37

    Sounds more like someone was doing an operation while standing on the HK side on someone lying on the mainland side.

  2. Now there's a story! SCMP reporters take note.