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On the Road in China: Prostitution, Religion Rise

As Communist Grip Loosens, Sex Trade, Churches Emerge

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Many prostitutes work out of karaoke bars or, like this 25-year-old woman, out of hair salons that have a very basic room behind them in which they see clients. Rob Gifford, NPR hide caption

ยป SEE A MAP OF GIFFORD'S JOURNEY, MORE ON THE SERIES
toggle caption Rob Gifford, NPR
A small Protestant church along Route 312 in rural China.

A small Protestant church along Route 312 in rural China. Rob Gifford, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Rob Gifford, NPR

Heading further west across China, the prevalence of prostitution is inescapable. For many young women, it's the only way to make a living in the impoverished center of the country. With the arrival of capitalism, many state-owned enterprises vanished, taking jobs with them.

But with the erosion of communist influence there also is an explosion in religion, and many small Christian churches can be found along Route 312.

In the third of seven reports on his 3,000-mile journey across China, NPR's Rob Gifford reports on the resurgence of prostitution — and religion — in the world's most populous nation.

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