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Last Updated: Friday, 6 February, 2004, 22:07 GMT
Taiwan sex workers demand rights
By Caroline Gluck
BBC, Taipei

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian
Chen Shui-bian shut down brothels when he was Taipei mayor
Sex workers in Taiwan are due to hold a rally on Saturday, urging candidates in the presidential election to support the legalisation of prostitution.

The rally in the capital Taipei is aimed at getting the sex workers' message across to the public, organisers say.

President Chen Shui-bian was mayor of Taipei in 1997 when the city launched a crackdown against prostitution.

He is standing for re-election on the island on 20 March.

The festival organisers, the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters, argue that decriminalising prostitution would allow proper regulation of the trade, including a requirement for regular health checks on sex workers.


One of the organisers said: "(The president) should face the real world situation about sex workers.

I can use my body to send messages, because you have to have a hook to get people's attention
"In the past when it was legalised, the sex workers had to be examined every week... right now it's becoming like a dark room. Nobody knows what happens."

Activists are urging presidential candidates to support amending laws under which they can be prosecuted, while their clients are let off.

Two women sex workers have been holding stripteases in a Taipei park to draw attention to their campaign.

"I've found that I can use my body to send messages, because you have to have a hook to get people's attention," one of the women, Stacey, told the BBC.

"We had a very attentive crowd here who was willing to listen to what we had to say about women's rights and able to enjoy our visual representation of how we use our women's rights."

The BBC's Caroline Gluck
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