Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Group calls for vote on sex trade legality

RED LIGHT FLASHING:With the ban on prostitution set to expire in November, supporters and opponents of legalization both oppose the government’s proposed ‘special districts’

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Gao Jyh-peng, left, and DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi criticize the government during a press conference yesterday over news that it will allow local governments to establish legal red-light districts.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The Alliance against Sexual Exploitation yesterday urged the government to put to a referendum a plan by the Ministry of the Interior to legalize prostitution in designated areas.

“We are opposed to making prostitution an industry and a job, because the sex trade is essentially exploitation of the female body,” Lee Li-fen (李麗芬), secretary--general of End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism Taiwan, one of the alliance’s member groups, told a news conference at the legislature yesterday morning.

“The ministry is trying to shirk its responsibility by saying it respects local governments and authorizing them to decide whether to create prostitution zones in their city or county,” Lee said. “If the ministry really cares about what local residents think, they should put the issue ... to a referendum.”

Taiwan Women’s Link secretary-general Tsai Wan-fen (蔡宛芬) said that creating red light districts would not resolve social issues related to the sex industry, such as crime.

Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said if the government cared about economically disadvantaged women’s right to work, it should come up with other solutions.

“Rather than legalizing the sex industry to open [work opportunities] for the economically disadvantaged, as government officials have put it, the ministry should come up with actions to improve women’s welfare and ameliorate employment conditions for women,” Kang said. “Allowing women to sell their bodies isn’t helping.”

The ministry announced on Wednesday that after a clause in the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法) banning prostitution expires in November, it would allow local governments to set up special districts in which the sex trade would be permitted, while selling or buying sex services outside those areas would be prohibited by law.

The policy has drawn sharp criticism from groups that support and oppose the legalization of the sex industry, with one side saying the measures are too restrictive, while the other said the sex industry should not be legalized at all.Economically disadvantaged women need jobs, but not sex jobs,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said. “The sex industry neither satisfies the needs of economically disadvantaged women, nor does it protect the rights of sex workers. It only satisfies men’s desires.”

Huang has proposed legislation penalizing clients, rather than the service provider, in the sex trade.

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