6/9/14

Fong Chun Shee, Procuress of Chinese Sex Slaves, 1887

     The Chinese Exclusion Law of 1882 created an unintended opportunity for unscrupulous exploitation of young Chinese women who were forced into lives of prostitution.  Chinese laborers, unable to bring their wives from China and blocked from marrying white women by anti-miscegenation laws, provided a large demand for the illicit sex trade. There were many accounts of girls in China sold into slavery, kidnapped, or deceived into coming to Gold Mountain where they were forced to become prostitutes.

On November 23, 1887, a Chinese woman named Fong Chun Shee was accused of bringing three young Chinese girls for "immoral purposes." She allegedly bought the young girls, who came from the poorest level of society, from their mothers and supplied the girls with false identities.

Fong Chun Shee, Accused Procuress

Immigration officials found incriminating letters in a tin box containing letters instructing the three girls how to answer the questions that they would receive when they reached San Francisco.  They memorized details of false identities that claimed they were older than they actually were and that they were coming to the U.S. to join their husbands whom they had married back in China.  However, when confronted with the letters, the girls confessed that the personal information they gave was false.  

At the trial on Jan. 10, 1888, One girl, Lee Sing Tsoy, testified her mother sold her for $620 to the defendant,  Another girl, Chung Sing Chin stated she had been sold for $420, and all her expenses were paid by the defendant with the understanding she would become a prostitute in this country.  


 

Fong Chun Shee, despite the strong evidence against her, was not convicted as the jury was not persuaded in two trials, and it appeared unlikely that there would be any further attemtp.  The slave girls who testified against Fong Chun Shee were deported back to China.



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