Appeal on anti-prostitution law filed with Korea`s top court

Published: January 10, 2013

A Korean court has ruled for the first time that the Special Anti-Sex Trafficking Act might be unconstitutional.

The Seoul Northern District Court said Wednesday that judge Oh Won-chan on Friday referred a constitutional appeal against the law filed by a 42-year-old woman, who was indicted for prostitution. The Constitutional Court will rule within six months whether a provision in the act is unconstitutional, and the woman`s trial will be postponed until the ruling is issued.

The provision says, "A person who sells sex shall be given up to a year in prison, fined up to 3 million won (2,830 U.S. dollars), confinement or an administrative fine.” The Constitutional Court immediately referred the appeal to its full-member court.

The woman was indicted for having sex with a 23-year-old man for 130,000 won (120 U.S. dollars) in northern Seoul in July last year. But in September, she filed an appeal to the Seoul court, saying, “Handing criminal punishment for trading sex constitutes excessive government interference in an individual’s privacy.”

In his Dec. 13 ruling, judge Oh said, “Though (the defendant) took financial gains, sexual intercourse is a privacy arena, and it is impossible to verify whether sex traded between adults that involve no exploitation or force imposes a serious danger to sexual tradition,” adding, “Sexual activities between adults should be left to an individual’s right to an autonomous decision, and the state should not intervene by exercising its right to impose criminal punishment.”

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