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Taiwan's last legal brothel closes its doors

Closure of Taoyuan City's Tiantianle ends legalized prostitution in Taiwan

Entrance to Tiantianle bordello in Taoyuan City. 

Entrance to Tiantianle bordello in Taoyuan City.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's last legal brothel has recently closed its doors due to the impact of the pandemic and changes in the sex worker industry.

Tiantianle (天天樂), the country's last remaining legal bordello, located on Lane 99, Minquan Road in Taoyuan City's Taoyuan District, has recently seen a steady decline in clients partly due to competition from illegal prostitution.

Taoyuan police confirmed that the owner of Tiantianle decided to shutter the establishment last Friday (June 3), reported Liberty Times. According to police, the facility's management stated that due to the pandemic, the bordello's employees have had almost no income and have requested leave, prompting the closure.

The owner did not specify whether the business will resume after the pandemic has eased, and they have not yet applied for the withdrawal of its license. The owner said that the bordello halted operations on June 1 and if it does not resume business by July 1, its license will be revoked.

Taiwan's last legal brothel closes its doors
Alleyway where Tiantianle is located. (Google Maps image)

During the Japanese colonial era, geisha houses and brothels were permitted to operate in certain areas of Taiwan and during WWII Japan recruited and coerced women to serve as comfort women in Taiwan. When the Kuomintang took control of Taiwan in 1945, it initially banned prostitution, but in 1956 revived a system of registering and licensing prostitutes.

In 1974, the government stopped issuing licenses for new brothels and in the 1980s there were growing calls to ban legal prostitution. In 1997, then-Mayor Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) outlawed prostitution in Taipei, making it the last jurisdiction to ban legalized brothels.

A 2011 amendment to the Social Order Maintenance Act allows local governments to set up special zones to legally manage the sex trade, but many years have passed and no county or city in Taiwan has set up such a zone, resulting in penalization of both prostitutes and patrons as there are no legal places for them to engage in the sex trade.

Taiwan's last legal brothel closes its doors
Entrance to Pine Moon House in Yilan. (Google Maps image)

At the beginning of 2018, there were only four remaining legal brothels in Taiwan, including one each in Taichung, Yilan, Taoyuan, and Penghu. However, the one in Taichung turned off its lights at the end of 2018, Yilan's Pine Moon House (松月屋) shuttered after its owner died and the police revoked its license, and Penghu's "Qin Paradise" (沁樂園) closed down after its elderly owner passed away.

There were four legally registered sex workers employed at Tiantianle when it closed. The owner is reportedly attempting to help the four former employees find other work.

Taiwan's last legal brothel closes its doors
Entrance to Qin Paradise in Penghu. (Google Maps image)