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Tanka women who worked as prostitutes for foreigners also commonly kept a "nursery" Tanka girls specifically for exporting them for prostitution work to overseas Chinese communities such as in Australia or America, or to serve as a Chinese or foreigner's concubine.
A report called "Correspondence respecting the alleged existence of Chinese slavery in Hong Kong: presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty" was presented to the English Parliament in 1882 concerning the existence of slavery in Hong Kong, of which many were Tanka girls serving as prostitutes or mistresses to westerners.
To attract attention, brothels were displaying large street number plates, and the area became known as "Big Number Brothels".
Andrew and Bushnell (2006) wrote extensively on the position of women in the British Empire and the Tanka inhabitants of Hong Kong and their position in the prostitution industry, catering towards foreign sailors.
It is among these Tan-ka women, and especially under the protection of those "protected T;in-ka women, that private prostitution and the sale of girls for purposes of concubinage flourishes, being looked upon by them as their legitimate profession.
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.
Those protected women, moreover, generally act as protectors each to a few other Tan-ka women who live by sly prostitution.
Prostitution in Hong Kong is itself legal, but organised prostitution is illegal, as there are laws against keeping a vice establishment, causing or procuring another to be a prostitute, living on the prostitution of others, or public solicitation.
The most visible public venues for sex workers in Hong Kong, especially for tourists, are massage parlours and the so-called "Japanese style night clubs".