[OUTLOOK]Politics of prostitution lawI hope nobody accuses me of either supporting or opposing the newly enforced Special Act on Prostitution just because of what I am about to say.
First of all, I don’t like how people don’t say what’s on their minds but try to speak in a roundabout way. These people probably aren’t able to act out what they think as well. However, I am frustrated because I feel this is all rubbish and that there has yet to be an efficient measure.
For example, certain groups have accused our country of being a republic of prostitution. Some experts claim there are around 300,000 prostitutes in our country. Some say 500,000 while others say 1 million or even 1.5 million. Such inconsistency in statistics is a poor start. How many prostitutes do these experts claim are in the United States, Japan, China, Taiwan and Thailand?
They are calling us a country steeped with Confucian principles, and Confucianism is the moral foundation of Korea. Still they call the country a republic of prostitution. If so, many of us must be complete hypocrites and guilty of soliciting or engaging in prostitution. What right do these groups have to accuse and slander us without any substantial evidence? Our people are mortified.
We have a habit of trying to solve our social problems by “declaring war” through the enactment of special laws. There is no better propaganda than to confer political importance to an issue. When crimes of physical assault became serious or economic crimes were on the rise, the government created special laws. Now, they have passed a special act on prostitution that revises the laws dealing with prostitution.
Strict enforcement of existing laws would have been enough to cut down on prostitution and protect the rights of the prostitutes. Yet the government insisted on making a new special law and emphasize its socio-political significance.
The police’s most important job is to protect the lives and properties of the citizens and to maintain order. If they are ready to put aside these priorities and concentrate on cracking down on prostitution, it is obvious what is going to happen.
If the old law on prostitution used more of a moral approach to the issue, the new law uses more of a legal approach that deals primarily with the commercial aspects of prostitution. This leads to confusion between voluntary and involuntary prostitution and harms not only related service industries but also the financial sector.
If the government restricts the interest rate for low-income families, there is a possibility that they will have to pay even higher interest rates to borrow money. If the law prolongs the rent period for low-income families, this will instead result in an increase in the actual burden on the families. If the supply is restricted or prohibited when there is a demand, there are unexpected side effects.
In fact, these side effects should not be unexpected. They are only unexpected by politicians and bureaucrats whose brains are slow or eyes blindfolded. As a result of this new special law, the sex trade will go deeper underground and there will be a “rich get richer and poor get poorer” situation.
Former prostitutes have few options in supporting themselves during a recession. Even countless men are going around jobless and don’t even bother with the 3D (dirty, dangerous, difficult) jobs. If we don’t focus on the reasons that these women turned to prostitution, clinging to prejudices and misconceptions and focusing only on political and administrative tasks, they will return to prostitution. If there is an outstanding politician who can refuse the lessons of a long history, he should be seen as a born leader for this era.
* The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Choi Chul-ju