Bangladesh shuts largest brothel over coronavirus fears

Dhaka, March 20 (efe-epa) – Authorities in Bangladesh on Friday ordered the closure of the country’s largest brothel for 15 days as the nation braces itself for the coronavirus pandemic.

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 killed over 10,500 people globally.

“From today, 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.

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 kilometres 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.

“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 has so far 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including three detected in the last 24 hours, and one death.

The authorities did not disclose the identity of the infected people but restricted public movement in Shibchar area of central Madaripur district on Thursday, saying that most of the cases were referred from that area.

Shibchar is home to thousands of people who live in Italy, which is now bearing the brunt of the global pandemic. More than 3,500 people have died there.

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 United Kingdom, until March 31 and also declared all educational institutes of the country and sporting activities closed until the end of this month. EFE


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