Whether to legalize the sex industry was once again the focus of discussion at the legislature yesterday after the Ministry of the Interior the day before announced its policy direction on the controversial subject.
Following a public hearing on the matter on Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement that most participants were inclined to allow sex workers to work in what it called “independent studios” of three to five people, which would avoid “corporate control” of the sex industry.
The statement said most participants did not want to see the development of red light districts and would rather that certain neighborhoods — such as school zones or areas in the vicinity of religious institutions — be designated by local governments as off-limits to the sex industry.
The ministry has been in serious discussions with various groups and academics about ways to legalize prostitution after the Council of Grand Justices declared a clause in the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法) banning -prostitution unconstitutional and said it would become invalid in November next year.
Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said at the Internal Administration Committee meeting yesterday that although the ministry had yet to make a final decision on how the sex industry would evolve after next year, the majority view expressed at a hearing would help shape the policy.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), however, had doubts about the ministry’s policy direction.
“If you don’t create red light districts, the entire country will become a red light district and it’s going to be a catastrophe,” Wu said. “Do we want all female college graduates who can’t find a job to become ‘studio prostitutes’?”
Wu also said the “studios” could still be controlled by corporate interests.
“Anyone who wants to get into the business could, say, hire 15,000 prostitutes, and set up 5,000 ostensibly independent ‘studios,’ with three women in each,” Wu said.
“That’s still exploitation,” Wu said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), meanwhile, said the central -government should not ask local governments to designate certain areas off-limits for the sex industry.
“I have been [a two-term] Chiayi County commissioner and I don’t think local governments are able to do the job. The central government should not shirk its responsibilities,” he said.
While there could be -loopholes, Jiang said, legalizing the sex -industry could help improve the situation.
“It’s not like we live in a perfect world and are trying to do immoral things,” the minister said. “The problem [of prostitution] has always existed in society and what we’re trying to do is improve the situation.”
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