Lying and waiting is underprivileged groups’ deal. In order to improve and protect the rights of sex workers, Social Maintenance Act Article 91-1 legalized the red light district and it can be set up in Taiwan. However, there are still no red light district to be set up in Taiwan as most mayors opposed. In 2018, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said that because the case of setting red light district involved the Law on SOMA and other relevant laws and regulations, and it has not opened the addition of business items in the “sex work industry”. Eventually, the proposal of COWAS was declined. The further amendment of the law is necessary instead of hastily setting up red light district. Some mayors said that if the central government could make related measurements, they would not opposed to setting up red light districts. The Red light district should not be set up in Taiwan because of the unclear law management methods. I will focus on three aspects: the live hood of sex workers, health issues, society problems.
1. Live hood of sex workers
Opponents claim that once the prostitution become a normal profession, the sex workers will be less likely to get exploited and have more stable income. It is true that the income of sex workers should be more stable because the prices are regulated by the government. However, though the prices becomes fixed, their income may not increase but get lower. Although ‘Measures for the Administration of Public Prostitution in Taipei City’ writes that “The pick-up fee is divided into A, B, C, etc. according to its regulations.”, sex workers still got exploited in Taipei red light district. In Amsterdam, sex workers need at least 4 clients a day to pay high rents and taxes since they are independent workers. Because of stigmatization of society and privacy issues, sex workers may not register and choose the illegal path. How can we say that the income of sex workers is deemed to increase if the red-light district exists? In conclusion, the live hood of sex workers will not be improved in red light district.
2. Health issues
Opponents argues that red light district can lower the risk of transmit SPD because Article 91-1 of the SOMA writes that:” A sex service provider shall be registered, licensed and undergo health checkup periodically. One cannot deny that licensed sex workers would be safer than unlicensed for their customers. However the risks are still cannot be ignored. The periodically health check is only required for the prostitutes, but not required for the clients, even in the former sex zone in Taipei. And, 74% of sex workers were unaware of their HIV infection, although most reported they had done tests, according to a research. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are soon to show up in tests, however the most serious HIV takes at least four weeks to show up. Finally, sex workers may suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress, which leads to low confidence on leaving prostitution. In short, the lack of protecting measurements cannot protect sex workers and clients effectively.
3. Society problems
Opponents argues that red light district can reduce crimes. And sex workers will not be controlled by sex traffickers or brothel keepers. It is true that since the red light district is under watched by police, so the security of sex workers will be protected, too. But human trafficking is still existing in the red-light district For example, it is reported that at least 1,300 Dutch girls got trafficked, exploited in Netherlands in 2017. Plus, because of the high return on investment of prostitution, many poor girls were sent to red light district in Taipei to earn money for their family. The report wrote that “In a room, unlicensed sex workers are ten times more than licensed ones.” Thus they got controlled by the brothel keepers until being rescued by police. In short, setting up red light district cannot improve local security fundamentally.
In conclusion, before setting up red light district in Taiwan, there must be strict laws and measurements to tackle with the unsolved problems. First, sex workers in red light district will not earn more. Second, the more advanced regulations is in need to ensure the safety of sex workers and clients. Third, local security has nothing to do with the setting up of the red-light district. The pain is under sex worker’s skin but out of their hands, so their working places should have more regulations to practice. That is, their rights will not be tarnished by more people as the environment does change in compare with the past. As Benjamin Franklin once said ”By failing prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
- Verscheijden, M.M.A., Woestenberg, P.J., Götz, H.M. et al. Sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers tested at STI clinics in the Netherlands, 2006–2013. Emerg Themes Epidemiol 12, 12 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12982-015-0034-7
- HIV and STI epidemiology in high-risk populations in the Netherlands https://dare.uva.nl/search?identifier=3daa9a9c-35b4-4425-8c48-711c8aefbd50
- At least 1,300 Dutch girls per year trafficked, exploited https://www.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-human-trafficking-idUSKBN1CN1R2
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Amsterdam’s Red Light District but Were Afraid to Ask https://www.eatingeurope.com/blog/red-light-district/
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- 臺北市政府回覆日日春互助關懷協會「臺北市落實性交易合法化的具體政策」及訴請市長約見時間之回應 https://www.gov.taipei/News_Content.aspx?n=2044902FC839D045&sms=72544237BBE4C5F6&s=F78ED287E4B49AB8
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- 社會秩序維護法 91-1
- 沈美貞 台灣被害娼妓與政策 (1990)
- 何春蕤 性工作研究 (2003)