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Questions surround end of sex trade law

The China Post news staff--As current legal restrictions against prostitution will expire on Nov. 6, two years after they were declared unconstitutional, Taiwan may face the plight of having no relevant regulations in place if amendments are not legalized before the deadline, according to the Ministry of the Interior (MOI).

Article 80, Section 1 of the Social Order Maintenance Act, which stipulates administrative penalties for those who provide sex for financial gain but not those who pursue the transactions, was rendered unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court on Nov. 6, 2009, and will lose effectiveness on the coming Nov. 6; at which point there will exist no restrictions against such sexual transactions.

To avoid the occurrence of such a window, the Executive Yuan passed provisions of the draft amendments of the Social Order Maintenance Act on July 14, which authorizes local governments to establish sex trade zones, outside of which locations both sexual transaction providers and receivers would be punished.

According to Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), the draft amendment of the Social Order Maintenance Act has been enlisted by the Executive Yuan as a priority, and he would personally visit committee members of the Legislative Yuan to request that the draft be put on the agenda as early as possible.

No alternative act has been created, as the amendment of the law against prostitution does not involve too many articles, hence the review process should not take long, Jiang said. However, if the legal situation remains unclear by October, the MOI will begin drafting an alternative act, he noted.

Since the end of last year, the MOI has been debating whether sexual transactions could be restricted directly by administrative orders or necessarily need to be managed legislatively, Jiang said, concluding that he hopes the Legislative Yuan would take into account how desperate amending of the act is.

Five Cities Say No

Regarding the Executive Yuan's draft of amendments to the Social Order Maintenance Act that would allow local governments to establish sex trade zones, the local governments of Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung all expressed disagreement.

Although sex trade zones are prevalent in many European countries, as well as the United States, New Taipei City has no plans to adopt such a system, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) said, a comment echoed by the Taipei City Government.

According to the Taipei City Government, sex trades zones need to be established far from educational and residential areas, and it is impossible to find such a location in a city as crowded as Taipei; in addition, a consensus needs to be reached by society before such an area can be allowed.

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