TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- On August 10, historian Kao Chuan-chi (高傳棋) revealed on Facebook that he had a conversation with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) about creating a legalized, government-regulated prostitution zone in the city's Wanhua District, also known as Monga (艋舺).
A 2011 amendment to the Social Order Maintenance Act allows local governments to set up special zones to legally manage sex trade, but many years have passed and no county or city in Taiwan has set up such a zone, resulting in penalization of both prostitutes and patrons as there are no legal places for them to engage in the sex trade.
Currently in Wanhua District, a part of Taipei where prostitution was once legal with up to 200,000 sex workers at its peak, before it was outlawed in 1997 by then-Mayor Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), streetwalkers are now not allowed to offer their services on streets wider than 8 meters in the city. However, Kao pointed out to Ko that many lanes in Wanhua are six meters or less in width, and thus prostitutes operate in a legal gray area there as the government is choosing not to enforce anti-prostitution laws in such spots.
In his Facebook post, Kao said that given the current state of legal limbo sex workers in Wanhua are currently operating under, he suggested to Ko that the city government consider legalizing prostitution in accordance with the Social Order Maintenance Act. He said that Ko then asked him three times, "If a legalized prostitution district was setup in Wanhua, would the people of that district and Taipei in general approve?" Kao responded that he would pose the question to netizens on Facebook and report his findings to the mayor.
Taiwanese netizens on PTT responded positively to the post:
"The first to dare to do this is a true hero!"
"Mayor Ko is actually really fierce!"
"The Mayor wants to block people from ill-gotten gains, he really is super brave."
"I think Ko Wen-je is the only one in Taiwan who would be able to set up such a district."
Article 91-1 of the Social Order Maintenance Act has stipulations for a legalized government-monitored prostitution zone that call for the sex trade venues to be licensed, to not employ minors, to not engage in human trafficking, provide regular health checkups, to be shut down if employees are found to have been infected with diseases, and to not advertise their services in publicly accessible places.