What is the legality of prostitution in Taiwan?

Is Prostitution Legal in Taiwan?

In Taiwan, prostitution itself is not entirely illegal, but rather operates in a legal grey area. The act of selling sexual services is not explicitly criminalized; however, various laws and regulations make it difficult for prostitution to operate openly. For instance, it is illegal to operate a brothel or to engage in pimping activities. Moreover, while sex work itself is not criminalized, engaging in sex work in public spaces or public solicitation is considered a criminal offense.

What Are the Penalties and Enforcement Measures for Prostitution?

Penalties for engaging in illegal prostitution activities in Taiwan can include fines, imprisonment, and even corporal punishment. The enforcement measures for these penalties can vary depending on the specific offense and the jurisdiction in which the offense occurred. Some of the penalties and enforcement measures for prostitution-related offenses in Taiwan include:

  • Operating a brothel: Fines up to TWD 100,000 (approximately USD 3,500) and imprisonment for up to one year
  • Pimping activities: Fines up to TWD 100,000 (approximately USD 3,500) and imprisonment for up to five years
  • Public solicitation: Fines ranging from TWD 1,500 (approximately USD 50) to TWD 30,000 (approximately USD 1,000)
  • Engaging in sex work in public spaces: Fines ranging from TWD 1,500 (approximately USD 50) to TWD 30,000 (approximately USD 1,000)

What is Prostitution Commonly Called in Taiwan?

In Taiwan, prostitution is commonly referred to as jiànù (妓女) or xìnggōngzuòzhě (性工作者). The term jiànù is more traditional and often carries a negative connotation, while xìnggōngzuòzhě is a more modern term that translates to sex worker and is often used by advocacy groups and organizations working to support the rights and well-being of sex workers in Taiwan.

What is the History of Prostitution in Taiwan?

Prostitution has a long history in Taiwan, dating back to the 17th century during the Dutch colonial period. Throughout Taiwan’s history, the legality and regulation of prostitution have shifted with changes in political power and societal attitudes. Some key moments in the history of prostitution in Taiwan include:

  • 17th-19th centuries: Prostitution was legal and regulated during the Dutch colonial period and the subsequent Qing dynasty.
  • 1895-1945: During the Japanese colonial period, prostitution was strictly regulated and controlled by the Japanese government. Licensed brothels known as comfort stations were established to serve Japanese military personnel.
  • 1945-1991: After World War II, prostitution remained legal but was gradually restricted. In 1991, the Taiwanese government enacted the Social Order Maintenance Act, which criminalized the operation of brothels and pimping activities.
  • 2011: The Constitutional Court of Taiwan ruled that some sections of the Social Order Maintenance Act were unconstitutional, prompting the government to revise the laws and further restrict prostitution activities.

What Government Laws and Resources Regulate Prostitution in Taiwan?

The primary law regulating prostitution in Taiwan is the Social Order Maintenance Act, which criminalizes brothel operation, pimping activities, public solicitation, and engaging in sex work in public spaces. The act also grants local governments the authority to regulate prostitution within their jurisdictions. Additionally, the Human Trafficking Prevention and Control Act aims to combat human trafficking and protect the rights of victims, including those trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Various government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work together to enforce prostitution laws, protect sex workers’ rights, and provide resources and support for those involved in the industry. Some of these organizations include the Ministry of the Interior, the National Immigration Agency, the Ministry of Labor, and NGOs such as the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (COSWAS) and the Garden of Hope Foundation.

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