Protesters outside the legislature yesterday asked the body to quickly adopt replacement laws for the sex industry to avoid it becoming unregulated because a clause in the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法) is set to expire next month.
The Alliance Against Human Trafficking — which is comprised of several women’s rights advocacy groups — rallied outside the legislature, with dozens of people holding signs that read: “Penalize the client, not the prostitute” and: “Boycott politicians supporting the sex industry.”
The protesters voiced concerns that the sex industry would not be regulated after Nov. 6 when a clause in the Social Order Maintenance Act that penalizes prostitutes, but not clients, expires after a constitutional interpretation issued by the Council of Grand Justices three years ago declared it to be unconstitutional. The council then granted a three-year period in which the law was to be amended.
Currently, three new versions have been proposed.
One proposed by the Executive Yuan seeks to establish special sex-industry zones where prostitution is allowed, but it would remain banned outside such areas
Another proposed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) seeks to penalize the client, but not the sex worker, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) has proposed a revision that would completely decriminalize the sex industry.
Garden of Hope Foundation executive director Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容), who was at the rally, supported Huang’s proposal.
“We’ve received information that human traffickers abroad are eyeing the sex industry in Taiwan. If the trade grows in Taiwan, it would not be good for the status of women in the country,” Chi said. “Completely decriminalizing the trade would make Taiwan a safe haven for human traffickers and therefore victimize many economically disadvantaged women.”
She pointed out that, as many women in the sex industry are from disadvantaged backgrounds, it would not be a good idea to penalize sex workers, but “penalizing the clients could successfully hamper the industry.”
The foundation’s rescue department director Wang Hung-ying (王鴻英) agreed, saying that the legalization of prostitution in Germany and the Netherlands showed that seemingly well-managed red light districts could still become hot-beds of criminal activity, such as human trafficking, the illicit drug trade and gang violence.
Responding to demands that the law revisions be accelerated, KMT caucus whip Chao Li-yun (趙麗雲) said she would try to call a cross-party debate on the issue on Monday. However, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said that the issue was complicated and it is unlikely to be resolved quickly.