Monday, October 7, 2002

Park Eun-myo
Staff Reporter

S. Korean government surveys prostitutes, finds they work voluntarily and want legalisation

More than half of women who work as prostitutes want their trade to become a legal one, according to a study released by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHSA) yesterday.The government study on prostitution, the first of its kind, is based on a survey conducted by KIHSA in six metropolitan cities, including Seoul, Busan and Daegu, during November and December last year.

It showed that 56.8 percent of the 1,655 women who responded to the survey believed that prostitution should be legalized.

"To help people in this business, the government needs to know what is really happening," said Rep. Cho Bae-suk of the Millennium Democratic Party, a member of the Parliament's Special Committee on Women's Affairs.

The parliamentary panel commissioned the study.

The survey found that 35 percent of the respondents wanted the government not to interfere with their trade, while 6.7 percent supported strengthened government discipline on their employers.

Nearly 33 percent had experienced physical abuse by customers.

Two percent said they have been abused by their employers.

Almost 15 percent of the respondents expressed hope that changes in the law would benefit them in terms of medical and psychological health care. More than 20 percent said they wanted state subsidies to change jobs, or just to get economic assistance.

More than 44 percent said they had been pregnant at least once, and 25.1 percent said they had been pregnant more than twice.

Forty-four percent said they regularly took medications.

Financial hardship was the foremost reason that kept 55.3 percent of the respondents in the sex industry.

Ninety-nine percent said they entered the profession voluntarily. Almost half of the respondents, or 44.7 percent, said they wanted to keep their job. The average monthly income of the respondents was 3,176,000 won (about $2,577), with average spending at 1,402,000 won, less than half of this figure.

The average duration for women working as prostitutes was 32.1 months. More than 30 percent of the women said their families knew about their job.


© 2002 The Korea Herald

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Created: November 14, 2002
Last modified: November 15, 2002
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