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They are given a yellow card bearing their name and photo, and results of the regular check-ups they are required to have, for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The licensing of brothels is controversial because they operate in so-called designated red-light areas, where the law against pimping is not enforced, critics say. Another place in Asia where prostitution is legal is Hong Kong, which also forbids soliciting, causing or helping another person to be a prostitute, and living off the earnings of a prostitute.
However, there are no licensed brothels in Hong Kong, nor designated red-light areas. Wan Chai, on Hong Kong Island, has long been the unofficial red-light district, with bars and discos popular among Western clients, while Mong Kok in Kowloon is known more among locals for its illegal brothels and streetwalkers. In , Hong Kong accounting sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong suggested the government establish a legal red-light district to consolidate and confine the sex industry.
Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu rejected the suggestion, saying prostitution in the city was already under control.
He said setting up an official red light district would mean require big changes in government policy on the issue. Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong does not outlaw classified ads for prostitution or websites that allow clients to make appointments. Despite the existence of licensed brothels in Singapore, many women still end up working illegally, including in an unknown number of unlicensed brothels.
Some have even been found operating in public housing estates, The Straits Times reported last month. There is clearly a demand for prostitutes in Singapore, Ho says, and women keep coming to the city from nearby countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Project X says there are many informal sex workers who work only occasionally, making it difficult to estimate the number.
Two years ago, police arrested more than 5, unlicensed sex workers — mostly foreign women visiting on tourist visas. Lainez says many are poorly educated with low-paying jobs back home. They came to Singapore for sex work to earn a higher income. Singaporean Jaafar falls into the same category. She failed to complete the Primary School Leaving Examination and has limited job options.
She entered the sex trade 12 years ago when she needed to support her children after getting divorced. They should be able to ply their trade safely, without harassment, and with dignity, Harrigan says. After all, says Jaafar: Skip to main content. Monday, 20 November, , 7: Thursday, 23 November, , 8: More on this story. Southeast Asia Armed robbery fugitive surrenders in Singapore after 20 years 14 Jun Trying to eradicate vice is always a futile effort.
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