“The contractee Xin Jin became indebted to her master/mistress for food and passage to San Francisco. Since she is without funds, she will voluntarily work as a prostitute at Tan Fu’s palce 5 for four and one-half years for an advance of 1,205 yuan (U.S. $524) to pay this debt.”
This contract for a brothel in California is dated the after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, that excluded women from Asia to enter the U.S. So it is absurd what women would do in order to come this country and stay. These women were prostitutes getting payed pretty much nothing. They were never going to be free, because they didn’t make enough money to live on their own. Their wages were so poor. These women were forced to live these demoralizing lives due to the Exclusion Act.
Sources: “Translation of a Chinese brothel contract in California,” 1886, Week 9 lines 3-5