This class of people, mustering perhaps here in Hong Kong not more than 2,000 persons, are entirely beyond the argument of this essay.
The Tanka did not marry with the Chinese; being descendants of the natives, they were restricted to the waterways.
They supplied their women as prostitutes to British sailors and assisted the British in their military actions around Hong Kong.
They invaded Hong Kong the moment the Colony was opened, and have ever since maintained here a monopoly, so to say, of the supply of Chinese pilots and ships' crews, of the fish trade, the cattle trade, and especially of the trade in women for the supply of foreigners and of brothels patronised by foreigners. kept mistress of foreigners here, belongs to this Tan-ka tribe, looked down upon and kept at a distance by all the other Chinese classes.
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.
Most popular mainstream newspapers will carry such classifieds with a brothel guides as an insert within racing form guides.
Yellow neon advertising boxes were used to advertise sexual services to such an extent that "yellow" (黃) became synonymous with prostitution.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.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.Japanese prostitutes called Karayuki-san, many coming from poor villages in Kyushu, started coming to Hong Kong in 1879, and constituted the majority of Japanese residents of the territory in the 1880s and 1890s.