Taiwan Court: Sex Worker Discrimination Unacceptable

Taiwan Court: Sex Worker Discrimination Unacceptable
Photo Credit : Reuters / 達志影像
What you need to know

A local court in Yilan has handed down light sentences in a prostitution case and sparked discussion by bringing up Taiwan’s non-acceptance of the sex industry.

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Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

A local court in Yilan has imposed lenient sentences on group involved in a recent prostitution case. The judges pointed out the distorted attitude that Taiwanese people hold against sex workers and that this should change.

CNA reports, the 12 people arrested in Yilan for committing sex offense crimes, including the business operators, call girls and their drivers, were sentenced to two to six months in prison.

In the past, sex workers faced more severe punishments and were usually forced to close their businesses.

But in this case, the judgment says that the business operators did not threaten or force these call girls into providing the services. The share of their earnings was also reasonable and fair, so there was not exploitation involved in the case.

Taiwan’s attitude towards the sex industry

The judgment points out that sexual transaction is the oldest industry in human society and has never been prohibited completely in Taiwan.

The judges recognize that most sex workers are disadvantaged females and that the Taiwanese society is unfriendly to them.

Most people in Taiwan do not talk about the industry publicly due to conservative values and the Taiwan sex industry remains illegal. This poses great pressure on sex workers, especially call girls, as they are usually afraid of violating the law when trying to make a living.

The judges also mentioned the impact of the Japanese porn industry on Taiwanese society. Many Taiwanese view Japanese porn actresses as their idols, some companies even hire them for commercials. In August 2015, the EasyCard Corporation issued a limited edition metro card with an image of Yui Hatano, a famous Japanese porn star, printed on it. The issue attracted controversy, but the card’s sales performance was remarkable.

However, local sex workers are usually discriminated and their jobs are considered despicable.

Lin Yen-chin, graduate chair at the Graduate School of Human Sexuality of Shu-Te University, tells the Liberty Times that such discrimination can be attributed to the patriarchal system in Taiwan’s society. Women are considered “dirty” after they have sex with a number of guys.

This piece of news was shared on PTT, an online platform for social issue discussion, and received hundreds of comments.

Many netizens praise the judges for making such decision, saying that, “There is finally a better judge in Taiwan,” “I totally support this judgment,” and “There have been too many hypocritical judges in the past.” [Quote translated]

Some netizens even say that while many Taiwanese do not understand the spirit of human rights, but still believe themselves to be advocates of basic rights. One of them comments, “Most Taiwanese are hypocrites, they consider this island to be the most developed nation in Asia; however, discrimination can be found everywhere in Taiwan.” [Quote translated]

Arguments over red-light districts in Taiwan

According to a law amendment in 2011, the Social Order Maintenance Act requires all local governments to set up red-light districts; however, none of the governments have abided by the law for fear they would be criticized. Therefore, the businesses can only operate illegally.

Another article on PTT that also received hundreds of comments discusses the situations that call girls usually face in Taiwan.

The author, who used to work in the National Immigration Agency and help arrest sex workers, reveals that most of these sex workers were deceived by human smuggling syndicates and usually receive very low pay. Because the industry currently does not have authorized districts to carry out their business legally, girls are still under control of syndicates and unable to ask for higher pay through filing lawsuits against their bosses. Many of them are even threatened by the syndicates that they would be reported to the police if they don’t cooperate.

“The only way to stop this exploitation is to set up red-light districts for the call girls so they can do their jobs legally, and they won’t be threatened anymore,” writes the author. [Quote translated]

Liberty Times Net reports, in 2015, there was a heated discussion on whether or not red-light districts should be set up in Yilan.

Although some councilors of Yilan County supported this idea, the government still regarded it unnecessary. Also, since a consensus hasn’t been reached among the Taiwanese public, the negative reactions of the citizens are still beyond estimation, so policies regarding setting up red-light districts were postponed again.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Sources:
CNA
Liberty Times Net
Liberty Times Net