Police meet on first day of legal prostitution in Taiwan

TAIWAN - The National Police Agency convened urgent information meetings Sunday morning, on the first day of legalized red light districts in Taiwan.

Under an amendment that just scratched Article 80 off the Social Order Maintenance Act, transactions between sex workers and their patrons are now legal within designated zones.

These sex-trade zones are to be established at the discretion of local governments. Prostitutes and patrons who trade outside designated zones face a fine of up to NT$30,000 (S$1,270). A so-called "pimp clause" clamps down extra-district prostitute agents, who may be punished between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000 and may be detained for three to five days.

The next three months are the amendment's "advocacy window," during which new policies will be actively publicized, said Chen Kuo-an of the NPA.

But all policy violators are subject to penalty, effective immediately - the amendment includes no legal grace period, he stressed.

Although no new penalty schedules have yet been inked for patrons, prostitutes and patrons alike may be governed under existing articles 28 and 29 of the Social Order Maintenance Act, said Chen.

According to Article 28, relevant factors for determining sex-trade fines are the "motives behind the violation," "purpose of the violation," "method of stimulation," "risks of stimulation," and the violating party's "knowledge of the situation" and "post-violation attitude."

According to Article 29, punishment may be reduced or waived based on mitigating factors from Article 28.

Said Chen, the amendment's core mission is to stem human trafficking, forced prostitution, and other sexual exploitation.

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