When Annie visits the Chinese mission, she explains that many young women are tricked to be prostitutes. The younger women are brought to the country as Mui Tai. Mui Tsai which means “little sister” in Cantonese, describes young Chinese women who worked as domestic servants in China, or in brothels or affluent Chinese households in traditional Chinese society. The young women were typically from poor families, and sold at a young age, under the condition that they be freed through marriage when older.
The Punti, a rough transliteration of a Cantonese term for “original locality,” refers to the Yue-speaking populations of Guangdong in southern China. From 1854 to 1867 there were a series of battles between the Punti and Hakka peoples.