Wed, Nov 12, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Taipei parents angry over sex-toy shop near schools

HOT AND BOTHERED Mothers and fathers of children at three Taipei schools have gathered 2,300 signatures in a petition to get a nearby sex shop out of the area

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A sex-toy shop newly opened on Chungshan Road near Taipei American School, Taipei Japanese School and Shihtung Elementary School has triggered complaints from parents and residents.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

A group of elementary school pupils walk by the Wanchia sex-toy shop on Chungshan N. Road Sec 6 and peer into a window filled with female mannequins in skimpy underwear. A girl squeals, "Don't look! Don't look!" and the students run away, giggling.

For the kids, it's just something to laugh at. Their parents, however, are not the least bit amused.

Concerned mothers and fathers from the Taipei American School (TAS), Taipei Japanese School, and Shihtung Elementary School have signed a petition trying to get the sex shop, which lies only 40m from each of the three schools, moved out of the area.

The petition is an attempt to draw attention to what the parents say is the negative impacts the shop is having on the neighborhood, including a drop in business for nearby shops and the "outrage" it has caused to parents who are furious that a shop like this could open a stone's throw from schools.

The parents say they have collected about 2,300 signatures and will present their petition, which asks for amendments to the law to ban sex shops from school zones, to the city council and the city government.

The parent representatives also met with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) City Councilor Lai Shu-ju (賴素如) last week to ask for his support.

Lai said yesterday that there were no laws to regulate sex shops around schools, but she had agreed to present the petition to Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) next Monday during the council session and push for a law that would mirror the "Taipei City Statute for Internet Cafe Self-Regulation (北市網咖自治條例)," which regulates cyber cafes in school zones.

According to parents, the shop displayed an over-sized replica penis in its window, however, yesterday there was no sign of it. A nearby shop owner said that it was moved from the window display because of complaints from locals.

One parent from TAS said, "This is way over the boundary of sex education. I can talk about human intercourse with children, but I cannot explain pornography to them."

Another from the Shihtung Elementary School said, "It is not right for these shops to be targeting young people."

TAS representatives also said that some parents used to send their children to Wellman's, the grocery shop next to the sex shop, but that now they were afraid their children might get too curious about the sex shop or their children might get harassed by the sex shop's customers.

"The children might look at the word `toy' and be lured into the shop," another TAS parent said.

The shop has the English words "toy" and "for play" displayed in the window.

A female employee at Wanchia, however, said that no pupils had ever entered the shop. She said that the whole incident started after the shop owner had an argument with the dentist upstairs because both premises were competing for billboard space.

"The dentist asked many different people to call the police and harass us, but we have a legal license," the woman said, showing her license to prove her point.

She also said she wanted to quit because she was bothered by the situation and had had to deal with the police too often.

The dentist upstairs, Fu Chia-yi (傅家義), said that he had started to look for new premises because the sex shop had affected his business.

He said he had signed the petition, but only because he was the father of a four-year-old girl.

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