TAIPEI: Taiwan’s government is trying to turn the controversial "betel nut beauties" into angels of the roads.
Accidents sometimes happen because drivers are distracted by the scantily dressed "betel nut beauties", said police officers.
But some "betel nut beauties" are now learning to save lives on the roads.
"Betel nut beauty" Xiaomi was trained by the local fire brigade in Taiwan's Nantou province to administer CPR to injured drivers.
"It's quite interesting. However, if I see accidents on the road, I'll still call 911 because I'm not sure if I can save the victims on my own," said the 26-year-old.
The local fire brigade has rolled out a scheme to teach "betel nut beauties" basic first aid skills to help injured motorists.
About 40 girls have completed the course and have been certified as "highway angels".
"The betel nut sellers are usually the first to witness car accidents. If they can provide medical support after calling emergency services, they can help to save the lives of injured motorists," said Tseng Sing Ming, chief of Chaotun Fire Brigade.
Taiwanese authorities have long tried to tackle the problem of the "betel nut beauties".
Many were arrested for their scanty dressing and provocative image, but that hasn't stopped the trade from flourishing.
So the government is now adopting a different tack by enlisting the help of "betel nut beauties" for its various campaigns.
Taiwan's Health Ministry is working on a controversial programme to turn these "betel nut beauties" into anti-AIDS campaigners. So aside from selling addictive betel nuts, these bikini beauties could be handing out anti-AIDS pamphlets and even condoms to motorists in the future.
However, many are uncomfortable with the idea of "betel nut beauties" handing out contraceptives, and the girls are sceptical of the programme as well.
"People already have the wrong idea that we're in the sex industry, so if we distribute condoms, it'll worsen the misunderstanding. Customers may ask us questions like 'Shall I use it with you?'" said Tu Ruo-yao, a betel nut seller. - CNA/ac