Vietnamese among 11 women rescued from Taiwan brothel

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Taiwanese police rescued 11 women, including an unknown number of Vietnamese, who had been forced into prostitution following a raid on a northern brothel on December 16, local newspaper the Liberty Times reported.

They arrested 14 people for allegedly coercing Southeast Asian women, mostly from Indonesia and Vietnam, into sex work by using violence.

The ring, based in Miaoli County in the north, had colluded with job agencies and human smuggling groups to lure women from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China, the police said.

But they refused to divulge how many Vietnamese women were involved or their identities since the investigation is continuing.

The crackdown followed a three-month operation after the Taiwanese government passed a law legalizing brothels.

The women were reported to be in poor mental and physical condition.

The women had been working in Taiwan and were tricked into sex work after labor agencies convinced them they could find better jobs with higher incomes there, according to the newspaper.

The gang hired four rooms, each just nine square meters, for the sex work. There were small doors connecting the rooms for the women to flee in case of police raids.

The gang also had fake police license plates to elude detection.

Its leader, 43-year-old Zhang Qiuwen, insisted after her arrest that the women had come to her for help and were not locked or beaten up.

But the police said the women were locked up and forced to work 24 hours a day, even when they were ill or menstruating. Those who resisted were beaten up. The gang also got some men to pose as police officers and threaten the women, forcing them to give up the intent of fleeing.

Each woman had to service at least 10-12 clients every day. Customers paid 1,200 TWD (US$40) but the women got only 400 TWD. The gangsters themselves only paid 50 TWD to have sex with the women.

Each woman's salary was added up on a chip card, and though the salary was calculated at the end of the month, the money was held by Zhang.

On average each has to service as many as 300 men a month.

The gang deducted the cost of rent, utilities, condoms, lubricants, and contraceptives from their salaries.

Some of the women have sexual diseases as a result of being forced into unprotected sex.

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