HOW ABOUT A WORKING HOLIDAY IN HONG KONG?

A 16-year-old who feels compelled to offer her companionship, though not her body, to earn money, a 26-year-old who sounds like a life coach – women shrug off the stigma to be girlfriends for hire, and the frequent requests for sex

Jo, a 16-year-old Hong Kong student, opened an Instagram account in May to supply her services as a part-time girlfriend. She’s attempting to save HK$40,000 to buy a clarinet, she says, and made HK$3,000 in her first month. Jo meets clients, aged between 25 and 35, about twice per week at nighttime and during weekends, when she’s not studying.

The phenomenon of part-time girlfriends – or PTGFs – for rent in Hong Kong has blossomed on social networking in recent months. They provide services which range from dining out to watching movies, but also the total gamut of sexual services, with dates costing between HK$100 and HK$4,000, based on what’s on the agenda.

The trend made headlines the other day when 10 Hong Kong women, including a secondary school pupil, were arrested on suspicion of advertising sexual services as part-time girlfriends on their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

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Like girls involved with a prior Hong Kong phenomenon, called “compensated dating”, there’s a cultural stigma attached to being truly a part-time girlfriend because of the widespread assumption they are all available for sex at a price.
Jo, who requests anonymity, says not totally all part-time girlfriends are available their bodies. Although she has met a person with a taste for sado-masochism, who paid her HK$2,000 to “beat” him, she insists there clearly was no sex involved. “I won’t overstep my moral main point here,” she says.

Her clients usually take her to the cinema or meet up for a chat, Jo says. She states clearly on her Instagram account that anything sexual is totally off the menu. However, she receives frequent requests for casual hook-ups – “ML [make love], tell me the price” – which she flatly rejects.
“Many individuals [on Instagram] accuse me to be a prostitute, but I discovered to be patient using them,” she says.

Like many PTGFs, Jo comes from a working-class family. “Being truly a PTGF is a high-risk job, but you can earn a fortune in a short period,” she says. “I am compelled to become a PTGF to earn money. I’ll quit once I make enough.”

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Jo admits to having concerns that first-time customers may attempt to force themselves on her, given the stigma attached to the PTGF phenomenon, so she chats using them privately before agreeing on a romantic date, to be sure the person is a “good guy&rdquo ;.

She says nearly all of her customers are introverted, or perhaps lonely and want some company. One had recently separated together with his girlfriend and was buying substitute companion.

Spending some time with customers does not give her the impression to be in a connection, she says. “Love must be long-lasting. We don’t speak about materialistic things or money whenever we come in love.”

One client asked her to be his girlfriend, but she told him straight a PTGF is only a commodity and any relationship is ephemeral.

“I advised him to discover a loyal girl who will spend some time with him for the rest of his life.”
Jo worries about her family and friends learning what she does, especially her father, who’s very traditional. “But I learn how to protect myself,” she says.

Celine, 26, a PTGF and tutor at a language school, can also be harassed by men asking her for sex, but she always refuses requests for sex.
“Some people just ask directly, but I guide them to consider differently, to consider if they do desire me sexually,” she says.

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