This exceptional class of Chinese residents here in Hong Kong consists principally of the women known in Hong Kong by the popular nickname "ham-shui-mui" (lit.
salt water girls), applied to these members of the so-called Tan-ka or boat population, the Pariahs of Cantonese society. 1730) allowed them to settle in villages in the immediate proximity of the river, but they were left by him, and remain to the present day excluded from competition for official honours, whilst custom forbids them to intermarry with the rest of the people.
They advertise for clients through the Internet and local classifieds.Although organised prostitution is illegal, the industry had always been under the influence of triads to recruit economically disadvantaged women who otherwise would never enter the profession voluntarily.Until the 1980s, most Hong Kong underground sex establishments were run by gangsters. The Cantonese name of the street, 擺花 (pai fa) literally means "flower arrangement", possibly because of presence of numerous stalls in the area in the mid-19th century, selling flowers From 1884 to 1887 many brothels were declared by the Government to be unlicensed and closed down.The latter, again, used to be preyed upon—till quite recently His Excellency Governor Hcnnessy stopped this fiendish practice—by informers paid with Government money, who would first debauch such women and then turn round against them charging them before the magistrate as keepers of unlicensed brothels, in which case a heavy fine would be inflicted, to pay which these women used to sell their own children, or sell themselves into bondage worse than slavery, to the keepers of the brothels licensed by Government.Whenever a sly brothel was broken up these keepers would crowd the sheriff's office of the police court or the visiting room to the Government Lock Hospital to drive their heartless bargains, which were invariably enforced with the weighty support of the Inspectors of brothels appointed by Government under the Contagious Diseases Ordinance.Most popular mainstream newspapers will carry such classifieds with a brothel guides as an insert within racing form guides.