Taipei prostitutes ask job be legalized

Prostitutes in Taiwan's capital are demanding their jobs be legalized again as 6 percent of them have committed suicide in harsh living conditions.

Wang Fang-ping, director of a prostitutes' advocacy group made the appeal to Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, saying the ban imposed in 1999 is unfair as it doesn't punish brothel owners or pimps, the Taipei Times reported.

Wang told reporters the city has collected $1.3 million in fines since the ban, representing 9,796 offenses.

He said a poll by his group of 128 prostitutes, 66 percent said they had gone underground, and 6.4 percent eventually committed suicide.

For his part, Ma was diplomatic, offering public hearings on legalizing prostitution but cautioned the prostitutes against getting hopes too high.

"It took Holland 200 years before prostitution was legalized," he said. "Don't think that it's easy to change public attitude toward prostitution."

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