Wed, Jul 02, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Sex workers want their industry to be legalized

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters perform a skit in front of the Ministry of the Interior yesterday to call on the ministry to legalize the sex trade.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Saying the sex industry could rake in taxes for the government, the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters yesterday appealed to the Ministry of the Interior to legalize the sex trade.

"With the sex industry going underground, the sex workers' benefits are affected, the government is missing a huge amount of tax income and too much police manpower is wasted on cracking down on illegal prostitution," said Wang Fang-ping (王芳萍), secretary-general of the advocacy group.

The collective, together with the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association and other social groups, went to the ministry yesterday, hoping to make take their appeal directly to Minster Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲).

The ministry denied the groups entry, saying it wasn't informed in advance of their visit.

The groups had to settle for Lin Wei-yen (林維言), head of the ministry's women's welfare division, accepting their petition.

The collective said that in 2000, when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was running for the presidency, he promised to deal with the issue of the sex industry.

A study by a pair of well-known academics on behalf of the Commission on Women's Rights Promotion has concluded that the industry should be "decriminalized, legalized and formalized."

Yu dismissed the study, saying it was a complicated issue that needed to be carefully scrutinized.

The collective asked the ministry to speed up its evaluation and to hold three public hearings on the issue before next year's presidential election.

"Of course the public would be worried about the consequences of legalizing prostitution, including its impact on marriage, the issue of promiscuity and public order. So it is important for the Chen administration to carry out its promise to deal with the sex industry," Wang said.

The ministry declined to respond to the petition yesterday.

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