Taking effect nine months ago, the sex trade prevention act has heightened Korea's international image as an advanced human rights country. The act is viewed as embodiment of women's movement over the last four years to drive out sex trade. Sparked off by a fire in a brothel in Daemyung-dong, Gunsan, Jeonbuk in 2000 that claimed five lives, the movement, initiated by women in Jeonbuk, gained further momentum to become a nationwide campaign.
After drastically revising the Act on Prevention of Prostitution, Etc. enacted in 1961 the act became effective on September 23. For instance, the word ‘prostitution’that might infringe upon women's human rights has been altered into ‘sex trade,’shifting the status of women in sex trade from criminals to victims.
After the act went into effect, the Ministry of Gender Equality asked TNS, a research firm, to conduct a survey on sex trade. The result of the survey showed that 94.9% of Koreans considered sex trade as a crime. On top of this, the annual Trafficking In Persons Report, released on June 3 by the U.S. State Department, evaluated that the Korean government has taken substantive measures to eradicate sex trade and human trafficking via legislation and enforcement of the Sex Trade Prevention Act.
Meanwhile, the government has removed 17 red-light districts across the nation, striving to help sex traders with training and self-support programs. The Ministry of Gender Equality, which is in charge of rooting out sex trade, has earmarked approximately 22.1 billion won to enforce the act.