Profit Making Disguised as Rehabilitation : The Biopolitics of Homo Sacer in China’s Custody Education Program for Sex Workers

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-48
Journal / PublicationThe Prison Journal
Issue number1
Online published21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


In China, low- and medium-income sex workers are routinely detained in custody education centers and subjected to institutional violence and exploitation. There are disparities between the official intentions of custody education and its implementation, rendering custody education more as a moneymaking enterprise than a mechanism for rehabilitation. Interviews with sex workers who have experienced custody education confirm this disconnect. The result is that sex workers become homo sacer, a figure stripped of political status and societal recognition. The findings suggest needed changes regarding human rights and the criminal justice system in China.

Research Area(s)

  • biopolitics, China, custody education, female sex workers, homo sacer, police