Brussels sex worker hotel reopens because of ‘unclear regulations’
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Brussels sex worker hotel reopens because of ‘unclear regulations’

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A hotel where many sex workers receive their clients briefly opened its doors last week, despite the coronavirus regulations forbidding it, because the rules were not clear.

“We suddenly started seeing a lot more prostitutes and clients in the neighbourhood, the pull effect was immediate,” Jan Leermans of the Alhambra committee said on Radio 2. “As it was not clear if the mayor or the federal government had given permission to reopen the hotels, we called the police,” he said, adding that not long after, the hotel closed its door again.

Despite hotels being allowed to stay open during the coronavirus crisis, the ones in the Alhambra district in Brussels had to close their doors as they are mainly used by sex workers. However, as they are not allowed to work during the coronavirus crisis, the municipal regulations ordered the hotels closed.

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“However, a lot of those hotel owners probably think that, based on the measures for hotels, they are also allowed to open again,” Daan Bauwens of UTSOPI, the Belgian union for and by sex workers, told The Brussels Times. “The regulations for the sex sector have not been made clear by the government at all,” he said, adding that many people are confused about what is and is not allowed.

“We strongly advise sex workers to respect the measures and stop working,” said Bauwens. “However, the main problem is that some sex workers continue to work because they have no other options. They fall through all the cracks, which is often why they started working in the sex sector in the first place,” he added.

The situation in the sex sector should be addressed by the federal government, according to Bauwens, so that this type of situation does not occur again.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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