Taipei May Consider Regulating Prostitution in Wanhua

huaxi street
Huaxi Street Night Market (Snake Alley)

Following a Facebook post on August 10 addressing the prostitution industry in Wanhua District, in which Kao Chuan-chi (高傳棋) said that he had discussed the industry and its history in the area with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the mayor said that the sex industry should be managed and not illegal.

Mayor Ko said that it’s not possible to pretend that prostitution doesn’t exist in Taipei. He is considering how to regulate the industry in the city according to the “Social Order Maintenance Act” (社會秩序維護法).

Mayor Ko reportedly to Kao that it is a reasonable move to establish a legal prostitution district in an alley within Wanhua District, Storm Media reported. However, the idea of providing such a government-managed area could face opposition from local residents, the mayor admitted. Kao believes that residents would agree to allow such a plan to move forward and encouraged residents to help promote the plan.

Some PTT users showed support for the plan and Mayor Ko’s support for it, calling the move bold. Some users also noted that setting up such an alley for prostitution would face significant hurdles. Still others wrote in opposition to the potential plan.

Mayor Ko said that whether the industry is Airbnb, Uber, oBike, or prostitution, the government should not simply place bans on business but should set out a plan to regulate and manage to allow such businesses to operate within the law, UDN reported.

Under the Social Order Maintenance Act, local authorities have the ability to regulate certain industries, including prostitution.

Wanhua District, particularly the area around Huaxi Street Night Market near Longshan Temple, was formerly known as Taipei’s red light district. Prostitution was officially illegal beginning in the 1990s, though it still exists in the district as well as in other parts of the city. The Associated Press once called prostitution a “flourishing” industry before it became illegal. At the time there were an estimated 200,000 girls and women working in the industry in Taiwan.

1 Comment

  1. When I did my first Lonely Planet book about Taiwan I wrote about Snake Alley being something a relic of Taiwan’s more cruel past, but for me the quasi-legal prostitution of the area wasn’t so much the issue as the open-air reptile murder. If I had a vote in the matter, it’d be to support a regulated, non-exploitative sex worker industry (zero tolerance for coercion, workers unionized, etc,) and the snake killing done away with entirely.

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