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These women, according to the historian Laurent Deshayes, "often ended up in soldiers' brothels" although "abandoning a Tibetan wife was severely punished by Zhao." In its relation to 1938–39 German expedition to Tibet, the writer Christopher Hale, based on the diaries of Ernst Schäfer, reports of prostitution in Lhasa: "in the teeming streets women outnumber men and many of them are prostitutes.

Due to the practice of polyandry, many women do not find husbands and come to the villages and towns where they fall into prostitution.

Their customers are from the caravans that cross the Tibetan Plateau and also the monasteries".

However, estimated figures on the number of brothels in Lhasa are provided by a number of sources.

These include organizations close to the Tibetan Government in Exile, the documentary filmmaker Ngawang Choephel, the academic Frederic Lenoir and the writer and historian Patrick French.

In 1962, Choekyi Gyaltsen, 10th Panchen Lama claimed in his 70,000 Character Petition that anyone in Tibet who expressed his religious faith publicly was subject to persecution and accused of superstition. The management of the monasteries was entrusted to the dissolute characters who "frequented prostitutes, drank heavily," thus discrediting the monasteries in the eyes of Tibetans.

According to the Tibet Justice Center, an organization linked to the Tibetan Government in Exile, Chinese officials have committed violence against Tibetan women by forcing them into prostitution.

In Shöl was the inn supposedly frequented by the 6th Dalai Lama, the young Tsangyang Gyatso (1683–1706), of whom the journalist Thomas Laird, in his book of interviews with the 14th Dalai Lama, says he refused to take his vows and "spent his nights drinking in brothels".

According to writer and journalist Claude Arpi (director of the Tibetan building in Auroville), the Chinese warlord Zhao Erfeng who created the former province of Xikang that included the greater part of the Tibetan region of Kham, encouraged his Chinese soldiers to marry Tibetans by granting them money and land.Their clients came from the caravans crossing the Tibetan plateau, and also from the monasteries.Since the 1980s, prostitution in the People's Republic of China, though officially illegal, has been growing again.According to the dissident Chinese writer Wang Lixiong who lives in Beijing, these comments are greatly exaggerated and only occur in rare cases.In his book Sky Burial: The Destiny of Tibet, published in 1998, he wrote: "In the West, the persecution of Tibetans by the Chinese communists is greatly exaggerated.That the PLA soldiers forced the lamas and nuns to have sex publicly while Red Guards raped women everywhere, all this, of course, is far from the truth.As people who lived through that time know well, in this (Maoist) period, sex was seen as socially quite unacceptable.According to the French sociologist and religious historian Frédéric Lenoir, the traditional commercial quarter of Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, now contains karaoke bars, gambling houses and brothels.The number of brothels in Lhasa in 2008 has been estimated at more than 300.In a report presented in 2009 to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Association of Tibetan Women claimed that the previous decade had seen an increase in prostitution in some major cities of Tibet.The causes were said to be discrimination against Tibetan women in competition with Chinese women for education and employment, as well as increased tourism.

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