The nation’s last legal brothel has closed its doors, partly due to the effects of the COVID-19 oubreak, in what could mean an end to licensed brothels in the country, local police said yesterday.
Taoyuan-based Tientienle (天天樂) in March reported to police that it would close its doors on Wednesday last week, but has not applied to cancel its license, police said.
If the owner of the brothel does not resume operations by July 1, the license would be automatically revoked in accordance with regulations, police said.
Photo: Yu Jui-jen, Taipei Times
The COVID-19 pandemic decimated business at the brothel, which saw a steady decline in clients over the years as illicit online prostitution grew, local media reported.
Since the most recent spike in domestic COVID-19 cases began in March, the four registered sex workers employed by Tientienle found it hard to make a steady income and left the brothel, reports said.
To phase out prostitution, the government started to regulate brothels in 1956, stipulating that only licensed establishments would be allowed to operate, but would have to close once the original owner died.
Tientienle was one of about 500 brothels that received licenses since the 1956 policy was enacted, reports said.
At the beginning of 2018, there were only four legal brothels in Taiwan, including one in Taichung, which shut down voluntarily at the end of that year, one in Yilan that was forced to close by the government, one in Penghu County that was closed after its owner passed away, and Tientienle.
In 2011, the legislature revised the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法) to allow local governments to set up red-light districts to legally manage the sex trade, following a constitutional ruling in 2019 that declared Article 80 of the act unconstitutional, as it punished sex workers, but not their clients.
As sex work remains a controversial issue, no local government has so far proposed the creation of a legal red-light area.
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