Bangladesh shuts largest brothel over COVID-19 fears

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Bengaluru: Medical Education Minister D Sudhakar visited and inspected special ward for Coronavirus at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, in Bengaluru on March 13, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

Dhaka: Authorities in Bangladesh have closed the country’s largest brothel for 15 days as a preventive measure to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The brothel was one of many other businesses that have been ordered to close to help fight the spread of the deadly virus, which has infected 20 people and killed one person in Bangladesh so far.

“From today (Friday), the brothel at the Daulatdia was closed temporarily as part of precautions against coronavirus. The sex workers were asked not to allow any visitor until April 5,” local police chief Ashiqur Rahman told Efe news.

Ashiqur said the police has requested that the administration allocate about 32 metric tonnes of rice to support the sex workers during the hiatus.

Prostitution is illegal in mainly Muslim Bangladesh, but Ashiqur said they do not interfere in the trade, which has operated in the country for centuries.

Daulatdia brothel on the bank of river Padma and near a major highway some 100 km west of Dhaka is the largest of the approximately 12 brothels in the country.

Jhumur Begum, who heads a charity for sex workers, said the brothel, where some 1,500 sex workers are employed, is frequented by about 5,000 customers everyday.

Begum said they have appealed to the authorities for help after the brothel was declared closed as a precaution for coronavirus.

“The sex workers accepted the government order because it’s a serious health issue,” she told Efe news.

“But at the same time we request the authorities help these sex workers. If the brothel remains closed for long it will be difficult for them to survive,” she said.

Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Health Services at a press conference on Friday said a total of 14,264 people in the country had been put in a home quarantine so far while 107 people were being kept in isolation for suspected coronavirus infections.

Bangladesh authorities have banned all flights from Europe, except the UK, until March 31 and also declared all educational institutes of the country and sporting activities closed until the end of this month.

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