Last legal brothel in Yilan, Taiwan closes doors

Last legal bordello in Yilan, Taiwan shutters after owner dies

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(Google Maps image)

(Google Maps image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The last legal brothel in northeastern Taiwan's Yilan County has closed its doors after its owner died and the police revoked its license.

Pine Moon House (松月屋), which is located in Kangle Lane in Yilan County's Luodong Township, was the last legal bordello in the county. After the owner, surnamed Changliu (張柳) died, the bureau revoked the brothel's license to operate legally.

CNA cited Hsieh Chin-hsien謝進賢, head of Yilan County Police, as saying at a County Council meeting today that the Luodong Police Bureau had revoked the license for the brothel on Jan. 1 of this year. The reason given was that the person in charge of the sexual service establishment had passed away in October of last year, reported Liberty Times.

Today (Aug. 27), the Yilan County government has requested the repeal of the "Yilan County Sex Trade Service Providers and Site Management Autonomous Ordinance," reported CNA. Hsieh pointed out that the police department has also applied for the scrapping of the regulations in accordance with Article 23 of the ordinance, which stipulates that "these autonomous regulations shall come into force on the day of promulgation, and shall be abolished upon the closure of all existing sex trade establishments in the county."

The Yilan County Police Bureau added that after a review by the County Council today, it will again report to the Yilan County Council for deliberation and it will formally announce the abolition of the ordinance following the council's consent. Thereby, Yilan's history of legal prostitution will be brought to a close

In the 1960s, Kangle Lane was dubbed "men's paradise," where several legal brothels ran from 6 a.m. until late in the evening every day. Pine Moon House first received a license from police on Jan. 19, 1968.

By the 1970s, there were more than 30 houses of prostitution lining the narrow alley, reported Liberty Times. In 1992, police data shows that business in the area had declined significantly, with five legal shops still in operation, employing 24 sex workers, reported UDN.

However, because the legal license for a brothel cannot be transferred to another party once the owner dies, the license must be turned into officials. People employed in the sex trade told UDN that the decline on Kangle Lane was due to changing trends, aging of the sex workers, and the influx of foreign women engaged in the illegal sex industry, among other factors.

As the government stopped issuing licenses for legal brothels, the businesses slowly started to die out. By 2011, there were only four or five sex workers in each venue, with an average age of 50. They lived in low-rise buildings, in sharp contrast with the new high-rise buildings that had sprung up around them.

CNA quoted a local as saying that brothels needed "an average of 10 guests per day to cover basic utility and rental costs." The fee for a prostitute in Kangle Lane originally started out at NT$100 (US$3), before eventually peaking at NT$600 per session.

A hostess surnamed Chang told Liberty Times that unlike independent prostitutes, those at legal establishments needed a license issued by the government. She said that the young women were required to undergo health checks on a weekly basis at clinics and hospitals. The sanitary conditions inside the cubicles where they plied their trade also needed to meet hygienic standards.

Chang claimed that the requirements for legal brothels were "stricter than any other industry."