On the 18 of October, sex workers and allies held a protest outside the Taipei City Government. Protesters asked for the decriminalisation of sex work, for an end to illegal entrapment practices targeting sex workers, and for the government to
stop ignoring sex workers. They are asking for safe and legal places to work.
One week ago, Taiwan Supreme Court Judge announced his support of the decriminalisation of sex work and the establishment of zones allowing sex work in Taipei. After the announcement, activists met outside Taipei City Government to demand the
Mayor announce his position. Tsai Ting-sheng, Speaking as Secretary for Taipei City Administrative Department, said the opinions of protesters would be brought back for further deliberation. However, sex workers say this issue has been
continuously dismissed and treated with contempt by governments.
In 2011, an amendment to the Social Order and Maintenance Act gave local governments powers to designate special sex trade zones for consenting adults. However all 22 county and city mayors have spoken against fencing off a sex zone in their
district on fears of a surge in crime rates and a plunge in real estate values according to reports.
Under this policy, both sex workers and their clients are subject to fines ranging from NT$1,500 (Euro $45) to NT$30,000 (Euro $870) for engaging in paid sex outside the permissible vicinity. Before these newer laws were introduced, only the sex
workers themselves had been penalised.
Penalizing sex workers drives the industry deeper underground, and only decriminalisation can ensure the proper regulation and management of the industry, Hsu said in response to lawmakers' questions at the Supreme Court last week.
Despite the change of legislation in 2011, lawmakers and city governments have both avoided the issue. In the meantime, failure to address the issue has left sex workers enduring a lack of safe and legal places to work.
Kuo Pei-yu, Secretary of COSWAS explained how the Taipei mayor was giving the police and city government free rein to treat sex workers like ATM machines by having undercover officers pose as clients and entrap sex workers. Sex
workers are asked to pay large fines by police officers who entrap them. She said this strategy was illegal as it induced people to commit crimes. The fines from such charges can be up to $1 million Taiwanese Dollars (approximately 29,000 Euros).