A sex worker advocacy group on Tuesday called on the public to stop discriminating against workers at tea houses in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華).
A kind of tea house common in the district, called “A-gong Diam” (阿公店) in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), has deep roots in Wanhua, where they offer much-needed social interactions to older residents, the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters said.
The tea houses’ reputation has taken a hit amid an outbreak of local COVID-19 infections since last week that health authorities have traced back to establishments in Wanhua.
The tea houses are important to the district’s local economy and culture, and services offered there are not exclusively related to sex, the group said.
While some of them offer such services, their main role is offering opportunities for social interaction for older residents, it said.
The tea houses offer a social space for elderly people that can be compared to KTVs for younger people, the group said, adding that not just older residents find emotional and social support there, but the businesses also help disadvantaged women, especially single mothers, have an income.
People should consider the social role of the tea houses, the group said, calling on the public not to discriminate against those who visit the establishments or work there.
All tea houses in Wanhua have suspended operations after the outbreak, it said, adding that slander against the establishments would not help improve the pandemic situation.
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