Bad laws are failing to protect vulnerable sex workers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 April, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong, Asia's so-called world city, pats itself on the back for its relatively low rates of violent crime. Therefore, people have been shocked by a terrible series of murders of prostitutes. I am sure several attacks on prostitutes have gone unreported.

Consequently, there have been calls for members of the world's oldest profession to be given better protection through legislation. In other words, consideration must be given in Hong Kong to decriminalising the business of prostitution.

The fact of the matter is that, legal or illegal, it cannot be rooted out completely.

Having laws that appear to take a stand against immorality may seem like a sound argument. But this minority group, which is subject to harassment, should not be left in a situation where it is defenceless.

Prostitutes' rights are human rights and should be respected.

It is pie in the sky to suppose that this is a profession that will cease to exist. And laws should not exist that place these people in danger.

Our legal system is supposed to shield potential victims from avoidable harm and punish predators. Laws should uphold the rights of each and every member of society. Legislation that fails to do this must be thoroughly reviewed. Society should not be expected to simply obey a bad law.

As I said, attempts to eliminate the business of prostitution are doomed to fail. It is far better to accept reality and to create a level playing field in legal terms.

We must ensure that these sex workers are protected from occupational hazards and receive fair treatment.

The law, like the society it creates, is supposed to progress, to react to necessary change.

If sex workers are being subjected to ruthless exploitation and violence, then something must be done. Lawmakers must consider how the existing legislation can be revised to offer prostitutes better protection.

The law should not discriminate against them. Other professions are protected by legislation, and sex workers deserve equal treatment.

Iris Chan, Tsuen Wan