Translation of a Chinese brothel contract in California, 1886

“If she has the four loathsome disease she shall be returned within 100 days…menstruation disorder is limited…if Xin Jin becomes sick at any time for more than 15 days, she shall work one month extra…if she becomes pregnant, she shall work one year extra.”

This excerpt is from a Chinese brothel contract in 1866 for the state of California. During this time the Chinese Exclusion Act had come into effect and sex trafficking was at its highest rates. The passage brings to light the comparison of women of oppressed groups and of their differentiating life scenarios. Xin Jin entered into a binding contract, most likely unknowingly into prostitution in order to gain passage to America. Unfortunately, this excerpt shows us yet again the objectivity of women by society.

Sources: “Translation of a Chinese Brothel Contract in California”1866. Week 9, lines 8-11.


5 thoughts on “Translation of a Chinese brothel contract in California, 1886”

  1. I think this is a great example of how women were used as objects in society. I think the reading we had on the public women would also tie in nicely to the point you are making here.


  2. What was the legal status of contracts such as these at the time? While the women subjected to these contacts unlikely knew the intricacies of the US legal system, whether these contracts were legally enforceable, or were mere symbols of domination and control offers another layer of complexity to the situation.


  3. Were women not objectified before this point? Is there a reason you chose to begin rather late in US history? It seems like coverture and slavery might be important parts of this story.


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