The Disappearing Fairies of China

From the March 27, 2005 joint statement of KaSaPi and TIWA:

This year, on the day before International Women's Day, an article was published in the China Times Weekly (Issue 1410, p.38). The title, emblazoned in extra large print, reads, “Filipina Servants' Blackmail Scam: They Target the Famous.” The article claims that Filipina domestic workers use the strategy of falsely accusing their male employers of rape or sexual harassment in order to change employers and to get money. We strongly protest this kind of sexist and racist representation!

The entire article cites no concrete evidence for its claims, it simply uses inflammatory headlines in order to demonize Filipina household workers as blackmailers” (literally, “disappearing fairies,” ie, women who trick men into having affairs with them in order to blackmail them). The article quotes such secondary sources as the “speculations” of an employee of the Taipei Labor Bureau, and a Taipei City legislator who relies on a “rumor” he heard from a broker. The writer urgently warns employers to be careful not to fall into the trap of Filipina servants accusing them of rape. They represent Filipina victims of sexual assault as cunning criminals. This kind of discourse is both sexist and racist.  Not only is it alarmist and sensationalist, it reinforces negative social stereotypes and biases. This is a truly regressive direction for the mainstream media to take.



For this post, I am less interested in pursuing yet another case of media hype.  That would be too easy to do and you know already what the deal here was.  Rather, I am quoting the above to point out that "Disappearing Fairies" (仙人跳) is the Chinese term for the "caught-in-bed-by-the-suddenly-appearing-husband" scam and its many variations.

The following is a photo-play by a reporter from the Strait Metropolis News (Fuzhou) working undercover to investigate a "Disappearing Fairies" racket in China (see, December 31, 2005)

The scene is Lin Zexu Plaza in Fuzhou city, Fujian province, China.  It is well known that there were a dozen or so females who hung around the plaza, propositioning male passersby (no matter their age or dress).

Since December 4, the reporter had been conducting a month-long investigation.  According to the observations, the women and their male companions began work every day at 9am and finish around 9pm.  On the most productive day, more than 20 men fell for the scam.  But the police said that they did not receive any complaints from anyone. 

The reporter went through the plaza twice and encountered the same situation on both occasions.  The women all said that they lived close by, just two to three minutes by motorcycle and they refused to go anywhere else.

On December 8, the reporters communicated with the local police and set up a sting.  Two reporters went into the Lin Zexu plaza and were immediately surrounded by a group of women.

One reporter was pursued by a thin girl who said her name was Xiaohua.  She was from Hunan and was forced to sell her body because someone stole her money.  She grabbed the reporter by the hand and insisted that he must go with her in order to have some fun.  The reporter suggested going to a hostel but she firmly refused.  She said that it must be at her place.  The reporter agreed.

At that time, three men had drifted near the two and were listening in on the conversation.  A motorcycle taxi then appeared opportunely and took the reporter and Xiaohua to Beiyuan village.  The driver did not even ask where they were going.

On the way, the reporter took a few peeks behind and saw the three men following by motorcycle.

When the motorcycle stopped, the reporter found himself in front of a row of single-story buildings.  There were eight unoccupied store fronts and not much else around.  The three men also got off and watched the reporter.

Xiaohua took the reporter to the front of a shop, went down the stairs and entered a small room in the basement.  There was a front door and a back door in the room.  The only furniture was a single bed by the wall.  The reporter tested the back door and it could not be opened.  Xiaohua said that the back door was locked.  She said that she did not live there, but only rented the room for "business" because this place was obscure and safe.

After Xiaohua asked the reporter to give her the agreed-upon forty yuan fee, she told the reporter to take off his clothes.  The reporter did not cooperate, so she took off her jacket and then wanted to remove the reporter's clothes.  At that time, there was the sound of some sudden footsteps.  Xiaohua tried to rush out of the front door.  The plainclothes policemen grabbed her and placed her under arrest.  The situation with the other reporter was similar.

According to the police, this particular gang was very knowledgeable about selecting the locations.  When the customer and the prostitute enter the room, the woman will just close the door without locking it.  Then she will take off his clothes and pants and place them near the door or window.  At that time, the curtain at the top of the bed plays an important role (see the photograph above).  The man will be in bed waiting for service, and the gang members will remove his coat and pants through the door or the windows without being seen.  Then the woman will pretend that she has to wash her mouth and body before starting, and leave.  If the customer discovers the theft, the men will rush in and assault him physically.  Most customers will not report to the police because they were participating in a criminal activity to begin with.

The police characterized this as a typical "Disappearing Fairies" (仙人跳) scam -- using an act of prostitution to lure a man to a certain location and steal/rob his money and belongings (watches and mobile telephones).