Policing and Regulating Commercial Sex in Taiwan: A Review from Gender, Culture and Legal Perspectives

Chih-Chieh Lin, Fang-Yi Su, Ping-Hsuan Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commercial sex has been a complex and controversial issue in Taiwan. It was banned several times and finally partially legalized in law when the Congress finally amended Article 80 of the Social Order Maintenance Law and authorized local governments to establish red-light districts. Unfortunately, in reality, until now, no local government has established a red-light district. Therefore, all commercial sex is still illegal in Taiwan. By reviewing this issue from gender, culture, and legal perspectives, this paper discusses the regulation of commercial sex in Taiwan in three parts. In the first part, this paper provides a historical view of the development of commercial sex and how the government regulated it in different periods. In the second part, this paper introduces the debate and various perspectives of feminist legal theories on this issue. Finally, compared with the regulation models of Japan and Singapore, this paper proposes an empowerment approach in response to the current Social Order Maintenance Law. Focusing on sex workers’ autonomy and subjectivity, the new approach hopes to balance the interests between the rights of sex workers and the needs of social order and public health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-263
Number of pages3
JournalAsian Journal of Law and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • sex worker
  • prostitute
  • commercial sex
  • regulation
  • discrimination
  • feminist legal theory


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