Taiwan Sex Workers Protest

Taiwan Sex Workers Protest

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- About 200 sex workers and their supporters paraded
through heavy rain in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, Monday, demanding that
anti-prostitution laws be changed.

The activists, many wearing headbands that read "decriminalize sex
workers," said it was unfair to penalize sex workers but not their

Prostitution is banned on the island, but widely tolerated.

Foreign supporters were among those in the parade. Ruth Ross, of the
British-based International Union of Sex Workers, said Taiwan could
learn from her group's experience in forming unions.

"We believe sex workers all around the world must unite and stand up for
their rights," Ross said.

She led the crowd in shouting "sex workers unite," waved a Union Jack
and performed a partial striptease dance.

Other marchers were more discrete, covering their faces with masks and

With Taiwan's March 20 presidential elections in mind, the activists
marched to the campaign headquarters of the two presidential candidates.

Monday's parade was part of a four-day cultural festival sponsored by a
local activist group, the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters. It
included seminars on the experiences of sex workers in various
countries, and erotic dance workshops.