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Friday, Oct 30, 2020

It’s getting really serious: Singapore's sex industry shuts due to coronavirus

It’s getting really serious: Singapore's sex industry shuts due to coronavirus

Shortly after midnight on Friday, a young Asian sex worker dressed in a baggy cotton dress and slippers stepped out of a brothel in Singapore's deserted red light district and rolled a wheelie bin to the side of the street.
Shortly after midnight on Friday, a young Asian sex worker dressed in a baggy cotton dress and slippers stepped out of a brothel in Singapore's deserted red light district and rolled a wheelie bin to the side of the street.

Two hours earlier, Singapore's vibrant Geylang neighborhood was having a more typical night - clusters of men negotiating with chain-smoking pimps on the street as women in tight dresses tapped at phones inside neon-lit houses alongside.

Singapore closed bars, nightclubs and cinemas from Friday until the end of April in an effort to contain a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

Although the announcement made no mention of the government-sanctioned brothels in Geylang, pimps and sex workers said they were passed the message that they too would need to close shop.

"I got nice girls for you. Might be your last chance for a while," a grizzled pimp mumbled in the hours before midnight outside one of the dozens of brothels dotted along Geylang's streets, which are monitored by police security cameras.

Singapore announced massive stimulus measures on Thursday to soften the economic shock from the coronavirus outbreak, including generous cash handouts for locals.

But for the hundreds of low-income Asian migrant sex workers and nightclub entertainers in the wealthy city-state, there is huge uncertainty about their future.

"I don't know how we'll survive," said one freelance sex worker, sitting on a plastic chair across the street from a brothel decorated with Chinese red lanterns, a nod to customers about the nationality of the women working inside.

"We don't get looked after like people in other jobs."
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