Asian women is a term that was used to collectively identify females who hailed from Asian countries in the United States. The Asian countries included Japan, China and Korea among others. Some Asian women had come along with their husbands in such of greener pastures, and escape from the battles that were taking place in the Asian continent.
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As time moved, more Asians relocated to the US and thus, they flooded the state’s labor market. This is what led to the enactment of Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. The following paragraphs focus on the issues that lie underneath this act and the effects it had on Asian women.
Before the legislation of the exclusion act, Asians were allowed to immigrate to the US as laborers in the sugar farms. There was extreme poverty in Asia, which prompted many locals to seek for employment in the US. The construction of transcontinental railroad caused more Asians to relocate to the US and this is because the local population could not satisfy the demand for labor.
The Asian laborers were only interested in earning a living and thus, they took any offer that came their way. This attitude did not go down well with the locals because they felt that the Asians were gradually eliminating them from the labor market.
In 19th century, activist groups advocated for the passing of Chinese exclusion act, which many people saw it as the appropriate measure of securing the interests of the local people.
When the act was passed in 1882, it barred many Asians from relocating to the US. The other argument that activists used was that Asian women were promoting the spread of prostitution in the US. This was a scapegoat because prostitution started even before the coming of Asian women. Furthermore, the Asian women were perceived to be responsible of infecting the locals with sexually transmitted diseases.
After the exclusion act was passed, a lot of racial violence was directed towards Asian women. This brutality was intended to make the Asian women to return to their mother countries and discourage other Asian women from relocating to the US. The exclusion act favored the interests of the locals because they were given the first priority in the labor market. With no alternative, the Asian women resorted to prostitution as a way of earning their daily bread.
However, American men who had drawn Asian women from Asia while posing as potential husbands forcibly converted them some into sex slaves. The girls were promised good life once they agreed to relocate to the US, but were later shocked by the turn of events. Most Asian opted to remain in the US and practice prostitution rather than go back their poor homes. Besides, by working as commercial sex workers they were able to help their friends back at home because the value of US currency was higher in Asia.
On the other hand, a few women were immune from the Chinese Exclusion Act. These Asian women were married to the American natives or were born in the United States. The Asian women were stereotyped as prostitutes, but those born in the US were thought to be pure because they had adopted the American lifestyle.
However, this initiative did not stop Asian women from immigrating to the US because most of them managed to pose as wives of American businessmen. Similarly, not all Asian women who wished to trade with their bodies, but brothel owners kidnapped even those who were innocent. This is because owning a brothel was a very lucrative business back then. Once in the brothels, they were subjected to many inhumane acts because their feet had to be bound to attract more customers.
Therefore, the US law was used to justify racial discrimination towards Asian women. The Asian women would not have engaged in prostitution if they were given equal employment opportunities just like their local counterparts. The exclusion law was biased because if it was to be used to eliminate prostitution, then it should have been comprehensive. From another perspective, the exclusion act was trying to imply that prostitution was reserved for local women, but not for foreign women.