Taiwan is now allowing local governments to set up red-light districts, potentially bringing the island’s large underground sex industry out into the open. Prostitution inside special zones will be legal, but outside of them both prostitutes and their clients can be fined.
Taiwanese officials have long been conflicted on how to regulate a sex trade that is widely tolerated today behind closed doors. As in much of East Asia, Taiwanese brothels are normally disguised as nightclubs, massage parlors or short-term hotels. Stephen Lakkis, director of the Center for Public Theology at Taiwan Theological College, has researched prostitution on the island since 2009.
“We have the view of the general public. I think the recent polls have really been showing that about 75 percent of the population says that they are approving of changes to the prostitution law and would consider favorably a legalization of prostitution so long as it doesn’t really happen in their own backyard,” Lakkis said.
About 600 times a year police detain lone sex workers who solicit on street corners, where they face fines of up to $1,000. On November 4, Taiwan’s parliament extended those police powers to the clients of prostitutes as well, acting two days before the expiration of a statute that would have called off law enforcement altogether. Legislators decided at the same time that prostitutes can freely work in red light districts wherever local governments allow them.
Source: Voice of America News