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Tag: Special Law on Prostitution

Court questions anti-prostitution law

Looks like the Constitutional Court is going to have to rule on whether the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution violates the Constitution:

In an interesting development, a Seoul court has asked the Constitutional Court to deliberate on the constitutionality of sex trade.

The Seoul court referred the case of a 41-year-old Kim who was charged with violating the special law on sex trade by receiving payment for offering sex services to the Constitutional Court.

While sex trade in itself is illegal and prohibited, the court said, it has to be debated as to whether voluntary engagement of sexual activities for payment is illegal and should be subject to punishment.

The Dong-A Ilbo—which, it should be pointed out, has done some spectacular reporting on this subject in that past—has been all over this ruling.

One of the things the court noted is that concubinage and “local wife contracts” (i.e., women arranging to act as “local wives” for foreigners, typically Japanese) are not punished, while women who sell sex to unspecified individuals are, despite the fact that fundamentally, they are all doing the same thing.

The Dong-A also reported that prostitutes are welcoming the ruling, but women’s groups are not.

Marmot’s Note: As I’ve said before, I simply cannot wrap my head around a law that punishes a woman for selling something that she can give away for free all she likes. That women’s groups are calling for women to be punished for deciding what to do with their own sexuality also reminds me of the criticism made in The Handmaid’s Tale of the war some feminists launched on pornography in the 1980s.

Anyway, as one of the Dong-A pieces notes, the Constitutional Court has held up the law against adultery no fewer than four times, and even the Seoul court seemed to say that completely banning prostitution was OK even if punishing prostitutes as criminals wasn’t. Which means we probably shouldn’t expect the court to rule that banning prostitution constitutes excessive state interference in the private lives of the citizens. It will still be interesting to see how the Constitutional Court handles the equal protection issues, though.

We need hookers for illegal immigrants: former police chief

Kim Jang-ja—whom you may remember as the field general in the KNP’s war against Mia-ri Texas a couple of years back—thinks we need legalized, licensed prostitution. Why, you ask?

“There are members of society for whom it is difficult to find partners, such as the disabled, illegal immigrants and widowers. Society needs to address the needs of these individuals by allowing prostitution in restricted areas,” Kim said in an interview with The Korea Times.

Just something for our British cousins to consider.

So, did banning prostitution lead to increase in sex crimes?

Well, according to cell phone poll data from Gallup Korea posted in the Dong-A Ilbo, 48% of Koreans seem to think so. In particular, 56% of men think the ban has led to an increase in sex crimes, as opposed to only 41% of women who believe so.

48% of Koreans also think prostitution should be permitted in certain areas. Again, many more men (58%) than women (39%) think prostitution should be legalized.

85% of Koreans think we should expand the scope of sex offenders who get chemically castrated. Women (89%) were particularly keen on this.

52% of Koreans think electronic anklets don’t help to reduce the number of sexual assaults, but 67% think releasing the personal info of sex offenders is effective.

For those keeping score at home, the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution marks its eighth year on Sunday. So mark your calendars and celebrate by not employing the services of a prostitute that night.

The Dong-A ran the data along with two opinion pieces, one by a Halla University business professor and the other by an instructor—I’m guessing either sociology or women’s studies—at SNU’s international grad school.

The econ guy argues, essentially:

– The 2004 law did nothing to reduce prostitution. In fact, it just made it more complicated by shutting down the red-light districts.

– The law also caused costs and prices to rise, preventing low-income johns from entering the marketplace.

– Block assess to sex without changing basic desires, and bad things happen. Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker wrote that crime happens if the potential reward outweighs the potential cost. So it goes with sex crimes, too. The cost to sex criminals, if they are caught, is the psychological and physical costs of prison life. For low income folk, the cost of prison life is likewise low. The prof says the fact that most of those caught sexually assaulting kids have been unemployed is no accident.

– He also notes that sex crimes per capita have climbed between 2007 and 2011, as has the percentage of sex crimes against children. Moreover, if you examine crime stats from the six years prior to the 2004 law and the six years after it, we find that the percentage of sexually violent crimes committed by the very poor climbed 3 percentage points, from 70.5% to 73.5%. During the same time, the percentage of thefts committed by the very poor actually fell, and the percentage of burglaries committed by the poor climbed just 1.4 percentage points. What we see, therefore, is a marked increase in sexual violence by low-income offenders since the ban on prostitution.

– Of course, you could strengthen punishments, but that could also lead to more rapists killing their victims to cover up their crimes, as we’re seeing now.

– Basically, we really need to reconsider if the Special Law on Prostitution is worth paying the costs that come with it.

The sociologist, on the other hand, argues:

– The experience in Western countries where prostitution is legal is that it’s impossible to restrict prostitution to certain districts. Moreover, even where prostitution is legal, sexual violence is on the rise.

– If there was a direct connection, sexual violence should have been widespread in the former socialist world, where the sex industry did not develop, or in Northern European nations like Sweden, where there are very few prostitutes. Instead, the reality is quite the opposite.

– The Suwon killer, Oh Won-chun, did regularly frequent prostitutes, but he still tried to rape another woman. Due to the special character of sex, you can’t simply conclude that the easier you can purchase sex, the fewer the sex crimes will be.

– The problems with enforcing the Special Law come from a social culture that views prostitution as a form of entertainment, particularly among the rich and powerful. It’s not right to call for the Special Law to be abolished citing its failure to lower prostitution knowing full well the law can’t be effective as long as there are groups in society supporting the sex industry.

– Prostitutes usually begin working in their teens, come from poor families or broken homes and were unable to learn skills and knowledge demanded by society. Few women volunteer to become prostitutes.

– Sure, prostitution will never completely disappear, but neither will poverty, war, drugs and other crimes. We should still work to reduce them.

– It’s shameful that in a country with a top 10 economy that might soon elect a woman as president that we’ve got so many prostitutes. We should increase jobs for women and expand welfare and education so that women don’t get caught up in prostitution.

Marmot’s Note: It’s worth noting that neither of the writers were women.

Tired of beating up on drunks, Chosun declares war on Korean prostitutes abroad

Intent on creating a fun-free world, Ye Olde Chosun ends its war against public drunkeness and begins a new one against another vice—Korea’s “export” of prostitution.

To sum up—Korea exports a lot of prostitutes to America. Didn’t know about the dozens of Korean prostitutes who got lost for several days in Glacier National Park trying to smuggle themselves into the United States in 2005, though. They eventually got picked up by Border Patrol (who, thankfully, weren’t blowing each other at Cirque du Soleil this time), but they were badly bitten by mosquitoes. Anyway, a Korean in LA said because of this, while South and Central America is seen by the media as the source of drugs, Korea is the source of illicite massage girls.

Korean prostitution has been perhaps an even bigger problem in Australia, where it has caused something of a diplomatic dispute and Korean diplomats have written Sydney mayors asking them to “dob in” Korean working girls. A white guy in Australia was also killed trying to “rescue” a Korean prostitute and another prostitute was set alight in Sydney by a spurned john. The Korean government asked Hojustan to strengthen its visa screenings of Korean women (I wonder how many governments ask foreign states to get tougher with their citizens), but it’s students wishing to study abroad who are paying the price.

Apparently lots of working girls in Japan, too, thanks to stength of the yen and the fact that Koreans can stay 90 days without a visa. According to the Chosun, you can find many Korean girls working as “delivery health” (where the eff do the Japanese come up with these terms?) providers in Tokyo’s love hotel district.

Interestingly, while some Korean gangs sending girls to Japan have been busted, Korean working girls in Japan have almost never been arrested since they look like Japanese girls and are working under the protection of Japanese crime organizations.

You’ve got a growing number of Korean college girls doing part-time work in the entertainment establishments of Shanghai, too.

Christ, you’ve even got Korean massage joints in American movies (“Couple’s Retreat,” “Hall Pass”) and CSI!

Mind you, it’s not just girls going abroad (although there’s a lot of them, too—a 2010 Ministry of Gender Equality report estimates the number of Korean working girls abroad at 100,000, with 50,000 in Japan alone, and Korea is believed to provide the largest number of prostitutes to the United States, followed by Thailand, Peru and Mexico). It’s guys going abroad and bringing their nighttime entertainment culture with them. Lots of Korean-style brothels popping up throughout Asia, including Russia and Uzbekistan, where, as the Chosun points out, Korean guys wanting to meet white chicks go.

I bet the do-gooders at the Ministry of Gender of Equality weren’t counting on this when the Special Law on Prostitution got passed in 2004.

Harris Country’s war on naughty massage parlors

The Houston Chronicle reports that Harris County, Texas is suing to get several massage parlors shut down.

Now why did I read about this in the Chosun Ilbo, you ask? Well…

The petitions allege that the spas are dens of prostitution and human trafficking. Proprietors use young women, mostly from Korea, to perform services, according to senior assistant county attorney Fred Keys, the lead lawyer on the cases.

This shit in Harris County has been ugly—in September, the assistant county attorney working to shut down these places claims to have been beaten in her own home by unknown assailants (although I take it not everybody sympathizes, and there are questions about the attack).

Anyway, more great stories brought to you by the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution.

Hey, prostitutes need to make a living, too!

Great photo in the KT from a protest against the Special Law on Prostitution by prostitutes and pimps in Yeongdeungpo yesterday.

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