The more this Ordinance was enforced the more of this buying and selling of human flesh went on at the very doors of Government offices.It is amongst these outcasts of Chinese society that the worst abuses of the Chinese system of domestic servitude exist, because that system is here unrestrained by the powers of traditional custom or popular opinion.
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.
To understand the social bearings of domestic servitude as it obtains in Hong Kong, it must be observed that although the Chinese residents of Hong Kong are under British rule and live in close proximity to English social life, there has always been an impassable gulf between respectable English and Chinese society in Hong Kong.
The two forms of social life have exercised a certain influence upon each other, but the result now visible is, that while Chinese social life has remained exactly what it is on the mainland of China, the social life of many foreigners in Hong Kong has comparatively degenerated, and not only accommodated itself in certain respects to habits peculiar to the system of •patriarchalism, but caused a certain disrespectable but small class of Chinese to enter into a social alliance with foreigners, which, while detaching them from the restraining influence of the custom and public opinion of Chinese society, left them uninfluenced by the moral powers of foreign civilisation.
Consequently, almost every "protected woman keeps a nursery of purchased children or a few servant girls who are being reared with a view to their eventual disposal, according to their personal qualifications, either among foreigners here as kept women, or among Chinese residents as their concubines, or to be sold for export to Singapore, San Francisco, or Australia.