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Marchers Protest Government Crackdown on Massage Parlors

November 16, 1993

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ About 3,000 people, mostly women, marched through the streets of Taipei today to protest the government’s crackdown on massage parlors.

Taiwan law says only blind people can give massages for money. But the decades-old law is widely ignored, especially in Taiwan’s 3,000 barber shops, which double as massage parlors.

Newspapers said up to 90 percent of barber shops employ non-blind masseuses and that many sell sex.

The government is trying to roll back the industry to more innocent times, when the blind would advertise their services by playing a flute to passersby.

The crackdown includes cutting off electricity and water supplies to offending barber shops. Massages that include sexual favors are punishable by six months in prison.

In a petition to parliament, the protesters said the crackdown threatens 200,000 jobs and that Taiwan’s 200 blind practitioners cannot meet demand.

″All we want is an equal right to work,″ said a barber shop proprietor from Taichung in central Taiwan.

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