Taiwan's National Police Agency (NPA) convened urgent information meetings Sunday morning, on the first day of legalised red light districts across Taiwan.
Under an amendment that just scratched Article 80 off the Social Order Maintenance Act, transactions between sex workers and their patrons are now legal within designated zones.
These sex-trade zones are to be established at the discretion of local governments. Prostitutes and patrons who trade outside designated zones face a fine of up to NT$30,000 (US$973). A so-called “pimp clause” clamps down extra-district prostitute agents, who may be punished between NT$10,000 (US$324) and NT$50,000 (US$1,622) and may be detained for three to five days.
The next three months are the amendment's “advocacy window,” during which new policies will be actively publicised, said Chen Kuo-an of the NPA.
But all policy violators are subject to penalty, effective immediately — the amendment includes no legal grace period, he stressed.
Although no new penalty schedules have yet been inked for patrons, prostitutes and patrons alike may be governed under existing articles 28 and 29 of the Social Order Maintenance Act, said Chen.
According to Article 28, relevant factors for determining sex-trade fines are the “motives behind the violation,” “purpose of the violation,” “method of stimulation,” “risks of stimulation,” and the violating party's “knowledge of the situation” and “post-violation attitude.”
According to Article 29, punishment may be reduced or waived based on mitigating factors from Article 28.
Said Chen, the amendment's core mission is to stem human trafficking, forced prostitution, and other sexual exploitation.
No sex-trade violations were reported Sunday, said the Taipei City's Zhongshan and Wanhua Police District police districts, the New Taipei City Police Bureau, both in northern Taiwan, and the Taichung City Government Police Bureau in central Taiwan.
In its latest objection to the amendment, the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (COSWAS) on Sunday accused central and local governments of passing the buck on the establishment of legal red light districts under terms of the new amendment.
The national and local governments are evading responsibility for the decision on setting up red light districts, since several local government chiefs such as Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin are reluctant to have such districts in their constituencies, said the sex trade advocacy group.
This reluctance is forcing sex workers to move their business underground, which will pose a threat to their personal safety and their working environment, COSWAS Executive Director Chung Chun-chu said.
In addition, clients will be deterred by the fact that it is still an offense under the new law towards patronising the sex trade, which in turn will deprive sex workers of their means of livelihood, she said.
“The sex business is not like setting up a nuclear power plant,” she said.
Chung said the sex trade has long existed in Taiwan and that local governments should first seek to understand the relationship between the sex industry and the neighboring communities before saying no to red light districts.
She also blasted licensed pubs and massage parlors that she said secretly offer illegal sex services.
There are over 100 such establishments and more than 5,000 women providing sex services within those establishments, Chung said. Most of those businesses have the support of corrupt politicians and media outlets, and the new law only exploits the rights of those sex workers who do not have powerful people behind them, she charged.
The group called for counties and municipalities to pragmatically deal with the issues and policies pertaining to the sex industry and address the rights of sex workers.
The China Post
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