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Prostitutes take protest to National Assembly

Oct 07,2004
Angry prostitutes and brothel owners staged another demonstration in Seoul yesterday, the largest of its kind since a new anti-prostitution law went into effect last month.
Prostitutes’ clients face a year in jail and fines of up to 3 million won for visiting brothels under the terms of the new law.
Wearing face masks and caps pushed down to eye level, more than 2,800 protesters sat in the street in front of the National Assembly building in Yeouido.
While Hanteo, an association of brothel owners in Korea, led the rally, protesters held up signs that said they had the right to make a living and that prostitution was just a job.
One woman participating in the protest said, “This is my job; let me work.” Another woman accused women’s rights organizations that oppose prostitution of being partial, favoring only certain groups of women.
“The new law is only helping some women’s rights groups to grow,” she said. “But it is useless for us.”
There was yelling and cursing when two activists from a women’s rights organization in Incheon showed up at the protest.
Earlier in the day, about 150 employees and employers at the Korea Masseur Association sat down in front of a police station in Gangnam, southern Seoul. They said the new law was causing masseuses to lose business.
But about 80 civic groups, including many big names, held a joint press conference yesterday to denounce the brothel owners. They said they gave their full support to the government’s policy.
“Brothel owners should be ashamed to call for the right to live on prostitution,” the joint statement said. “Their whines are like robbers calling out for mercy.”


by Lee Soo-ki, Lee Min-a


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