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Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Betel nut beauties face crackdown
Girls prepare to sell betel nuts
There is concern about standards of public decency

Scantily-clad young women selling betel nut - a popular stimulant - has become a common sight in Taiwan.

Intense competition between betel nut sellers has led to the women shedding more and more clothes in order to attract customers.

But this has gone too far for one local council, which has now decided to take action to make them cover up.

Girl selling betel nuts
Most of Taiwan's three million aficionados are men

Drive down any suburban road in Taiwan and you are more than likely to spot a semi-naked young woman sat in a glass cubicle.

The women are selling betel nuts, the seed of a palm tree, which has long been used by Chinese doctors to treat infections.

But the soft nut is also chewed by about three million, mostly men, in Taiwan as a stimulant which gives a buzz similar to drinking six cups of coffee.

Order to cover up

In order to attract as many of these customers as possible, the female betel nut sellers have been wearing less and less.

Most now wear little more than their underwear - and in some cases even less.

The development has not been welcomed by everyone and officials in Taoyuan county near Taipei have now told their betel nut beauties - as they are known - enough is enough.

A new law will force the women to cover up breasts, bellies and buttocks.

The council hopes the new rule will bring a little decency to its streets, particularly as many foreigners pass through the area to get to Taiwan's main international airport.

But with competition for trade so fierce, the alluring betel nut women are not going to disappear overnight.

See also:

11 Jun 02 | Country profiles
29 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
04 Sep 00 | South Asia
24 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
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