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Taiwan lawmaker wants to legalize prostitution
04-12-2009, 03:57 AM
Post: #1
Taiwan lawmaker wants to legalize prostitution
Taiwan lawmaker wants to legalize prostitution
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A woman lawmaker from the ruling Kuomintang wants to end a ban on prostitution, media reported Sunday. Legislator Cheng Li-wun has readied a proposal which would allow prostitution between consenting adults, according to the Chinese-language United Daily News.

Under the present form of the Social Order Protection Act, prostitutes looking for customers can face detention of up to three days or a fine of up to NT$30,000. Anyone caught three times within a year could face between six months and one year of “re-education” at a specialized institution. Current legislation was weighted against prostitutes but left their customers largely unpunished, Cheng said. Her proposal sees prostitution as a deal between consenting adults which should not be punished unless it is the result of coercion or endangers others.

United Nations agreements regarded work in prostitution as falling under the right of freedom of work, the paper quoted Cheng as saying.

Crackdowns on prostitutes often led to police abuse of power, or to prostitutes falling victim to scams because they were unlikely to report crimes against them to police, Cheng said. Legalizing prostitution could also result in a bonus for state coffers, bringing in an extra NT$18 billion per year in tax revenue, according to Cheng’s calculations.

Some women’s rights groups welcomed the proposal, the United Daily News reported. Banning prostitution only succeeded in driving women into the hands of underworld crime syndicates, said Yao Shu-wen, executive director of the Awakening Foundation. Other women’s rights activists said they were still looking for a consensus on the questions of whether third parties managing prostitution should be prosecuted, and of whether advertising for prostitution should be allowed.

Cheng’s proposal could not count on similar support from law-and-order services. Taipei Chief Prosecutor Liu Cheng-wu, known for his crackdowns on prostitution in the 1990s, said legalization would harm family values, reports said. Married men could visit prostitutes and evade laws against adultery if the prostitute denied everything, Liu said. He suggested abolishing detention sanctions against prostitutes, but leaving fines in place.

Police also opposed legalization, suggesting criminal organizations could set up shop inside residential buildings and run forced prostitution rings that were more difficult to track down.

While Cheng’s proposal already had the required minimum 10 signatures from fellow lawmakers to make it eligible for consideration at the Legislative Yuan, passage is not self-evident yet, media reported Sunday. KMT lawmaker Kung Wen-chi initially lent his support to the motion, but told cable station ETTV he could re-evaluate his position once the proposal came up for review at the Legislative Yuan.

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