Sex workers’ rights group urges city government to legalize sex trade

A sex workers’ rights group protested in front of Taipei City Hall on Monday, demanding the city government to legalize sex work.

Collective of Sex Workers and Supports (COSWAS) said that they asked the city government to give sex workers legalized working space many times last year, but the city government dragged their feet and responded that the city is not suitable for setting up a sex industry zone, using “the special status of the city” as an excuse.

However, the COSWAS said that it’s a fact that the sex industry exists in every district in the city, urging Mayor Ko Wen-je to legalize sex trade and stop evading the issue.

About 15 group members participated in the Monday protest, demanding the city government to give sex workers job security.

A streetwalker using the pseudonym of “MIKO” said police used a sting operation to nab her for violating the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act, and for which she will have to pay at least NT$90,000 to avoid jail time. Counting NT$1,000 for a sex service, she said she will have to take 90 customers to pay for the fine.

Taipei City Police Department said that it bans the use of sting operations to arrest prostitutes, but MIKO had violated the law by spreading prostitution messages on the Internet. Besides, prosecutors will decline to file charges against prostitutes if they know police used the deceptive method to arrest them, police said.

A 2011 amendment to the Social Order Maintenance Act allows local governments to set up special zones to legally manage sex trade, but many years have passed and no county or city in Taiwan has set up such a zone, resulting in penalization of both prostitutes and patrons as there are no legal places for them to engage in the sex trade.

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