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Taiwan's betel nut beauties
Roadside kiosks with scantily clad women selling stimulant add colour and controversy to island.
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2012 07:11

Neon-lit kiosks with scantily clad women are a common sight along Taiwan's streets. But the ladies are not selling sex - they are peddling betel nuts.

The legalised stimulant is mostly chewed in Asia as a popular tobacco substitute, hunger suppressant, and breath freshener. About 20 per cent of Taiwan’s male population indulges.

The ladies selling them provide a headier mix. 

They have been working on the streets since the 1990s, shedding more and more clothes to lure customers as competition intensifies among betel nut sellers.  

An estimated 100,000 brightly decorated kiosks blanket the island, though they are banned in the city limits of the capital Taipei. 

Earning significantly more than what they would have earned as waitresses or cleaners, the women - mostly from poor families - rush betel nuts to eagerly awaiting male customers in cars and trucks.

But the industry is controversial on several fronts. Conservatives in Taiwan see the provocatively dressed women as morally reprehensible. Women's rights groups see the work as degrading. And health officials say betel nuts cause oral cancer and permanently stain teeth red.

The women themselves are also vulnerable to physical and verbal sexual harassment.

But despite these concerns and government efforts to rein in the industry, the betel nut beauties have refused to bow out.


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
In Taoyuan, Tawian, a betel nut girl stands in the window of the 'Armani' betel nut shop where she works. Seen as something of a cultural embarrassment and now banned from plying their trade within Taoyuan's city limits, betel nut girls still earn more than a teacher's starting salary.


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
 Shao Le, 20, has two dogs for company in the 'Forbidden City' stall where she works on the outskirts of Taoyuan City.


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Sha Tang, 22, applies make-up while she waits for customers in her betel nut stall. Tang has worked as a betel nut girl for almost a year in Taoyuan. Their revealing attire is really a sales gimmick, although city authorities are now enforcing a more modest dress code.


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Tang takes a customer's order through a car window outside the betel nut stall where she works on busy Chuen Jr Road. Tang says the work is "easy and fun" although customers sometimes make unwanted advances and occasionally expose themselves to her.


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Tang accepts payment from a customer on a motorbike. She earns around TWD $40,000 per month ($1,350). A university graduate can expect a starting salary of around TWD $26,000 ($880). 


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
 Tang prepares betel nuts for sale. The nuts are a mild stimulant, and are popular with truck and taxi drivers.


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Betel nut customers outside the stall where Shao Lin works. 


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Strawberry has been working as a betel nut girl for two months. Her previous job was at a hairdressing salon. 'I'd like to own my own stall someday. The work's great, but when it's cold you feel it and you can't wear much in this job.'


Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
The women have been working on the streets since the 1990s, wearing less and less clothes to lure customers as competition intensifies.



images:
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captions:
In Taoyuan, Tawian, a betel nut girl stands in the window of the \(***)Armani\(***) betel nut shop where she works. Seen as something of a cultural embarrassment and now banned from plying their trade within Taoyuan\(***)s city limits, betel nut girls still earn more than a teacher\(***)s starting salary. ;*; Shao Le, 20, has two dogs for company in the \(***)Forbidden City\(***) stall where she works on the outskirts of Taoyuan City. ;*;Sha Tang, 22, applies make-up while she waits for customers in her betel nut stall. Tang has worked as a betel nut girl for almost a year in Taoyuan. Their revealing attire is really a sales gimmick, although city authorities are now enforcing a more modest dress code.;*;Tang takes a customer\(***)s order through a car window outside the betel nut stall where she works on busy Chuen Jr Road. Tang says the work is "easy and fun" although customers sometimes make unwanted advances and occasionally expose themselves to her. ;*;Tang accepts payment from a customer on a motorbike. She earns around TWD $40,000 per month ($1,350). A university graduate can expect a starting salary of around TWD $26,000 ($880).  ;*; Tang prepares betel nuts for sale. The nuts are a mild stimulant, and are popular with truck and taxi drivers.;*;Betel nut customers outside the stall where Shao Lin works.  ;*;Strawberry has been working as a betel nut girl for two months. Her previous job was at a hairdressing salon. \(***)I\(***)d like to own my own stall someday. The work\(***)s great, but when it\(***)s cold you feel it and you can\(***)t wear much in this job.\(***);*;The women have been working on the streets since the 1990s, wearing less and less clothes to lure customers as competition intensifies. Daylife ID:
1347444754367
Photographer:
Dave Tacon;*;Dave Tacon;*;Dave Tacon;*;Dave Tacon;*;Dave Tacon;*;Dave Tacon;*;Dave Tacon;*;Dave Tacon;*;Dave Tacon
Image Source:
Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Taiwan's betel nut http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-en-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Wed, 12 Sep 2012 10:12:34 GMTWed, 12 Sep 2012 10:50:53 GMT http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=0akI0lZ5LZ1ns

In Taoyuan, Tawian, a betel nut girl stands in the window of the 'Armani' betel nut shop where she works. Seen as something of a cultural embarrassment and now banned from plying their trade within Taoyuan's city limits, betel nut girls still earn more than a teacher's starting salary.

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=0akI0lZ5LZ1nsDave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

In Taoyuan, Tawian, a betel nut girl stands in the window of the 'Armani' betel nut shop where she works. Seen as something of a cultural embarrassment and now banned from plying their trade within Taoyuan's city limits, betel nut girls still earn more than a teacher's starting salary.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=06nXa5cdF6csk

 Shao Le, 20, has two dogs for company in the 'Forbidden City' stall where she works on the outskirts of Taoyuan City.

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=06nXa5cdF6cskDave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

 Shao Le, 20, has two dogs for company in the 'Forbidden City' stall where she works on the outskirts of Taoyuan City.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=05qLebp2JU4gi

Sha Tang, 22, applies make-up while she wait for customer in her betel nut stall. Tang has worked as a betel nut girl for almost a year in Taoyuan. Their revealing attire is really a sales gimmick, although city authorities are now enforcing a more modest dress code.

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=05qLebp2JU4giDave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Sha Tang, 22, applies make-up while she wait for customer in her betel nut stall. Tang has worked as a betel nut girl for almost a year in Taoyuan. Their revealing attire is really a sales gimmick, although city authorities are now enforcing a more modest dress code.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=0b7Gf2L9QY7Rv

Tang takes a customer's order through a car window outside the betel nut stall where she works on busy Chuen Jr Road. Tang says the work is "easy and fun" although customers sometimes make unwanted advances and occasionally expose themselves to her.

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=0b7Gf2L9QY7RvDave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Tang takes a customer's order through a car window outside the betel nut stall where she works on busy Chuen Jr Road. Tang says the work is "easy and fun" although customers sometimes make unwanted advances and occasionally expose themselves to her.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=0evX20J1i30fG

Tang accepts payment from a customer on a motorbike. She earns arond TWD $40,000 per month (US$1,350). A university graduate can expect a starting salary of around TWD $26,000 (US$880). 

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=0evX20J1i30fGDave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Tang accepts payment from a customer on a motorbike. She earns arond TWD $40,000 per month (US$1,350). A university graduate can expect a starting salary of around TWD $26,000 (US$880). 

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=09165WL8XncZ8

 Tang prepares betel nuts for sale. The nuts are a mild stimulant, and are popular with truck and taxi drivers.

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=09165WL8XncZ8Dave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

 Tang prepares betel nuts for sale. The nuts are a mild stimulant, and are popular with truck and taxi drivers.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=06co6nV7EV04O

Betel nut customers outside the stall where Shao Lin works. 

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=06co6nV7EV04ODave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Betel nut customers outside the stall where Shao Lin works. 

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=02wG6KK8bcfi0

Strawberry has been working as a betel nut girl for two months. Her previous job was at a hairdressing salon. 'I'd like to own my own stall someday. The work's great, but when it's cold you feel it and you can't wear much in this job.'

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=02wG6KK8bcfi0Dave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Strawberry has been working as a betel nut girl for two months. Her previous job was at a hairdressing salon. 'I'd like to own my own stall someday. The work's great, but when it's cold you feel it and you can't wear much in this job.'

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=09iY3wngo0eZf

The ladies have been working on the streets since the 1990s, wearing less and less clothes to lure customers as competition intensifies.

Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Taiwan%27s-betel-nut-?image_id=09iY3wngo0eZfDave TaconAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

The ladies have been working on the streets since the 1990s, wearing less and less clothes to lure customers as competition intensifies.



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