US investigators bust prostitution ring that enslaved hundreds of Thai women
A Thai go-go dancers waits for customers at Bangkok's normally packed Soi Cowboy red-light area just before curfew May 25, 2010. Bar owners and go-go dancers say a night-time curfew in the Thai capital has badly affected their business, with tourist scared off and expatriate customers staying home. REUTERS

Singapore's Central Police Division have arrested 17 women during enforcement operations against public entertainment outlets and unlicensed massage establishments situated in Jalan Besar and Little India.

On Wednesday night, the police said in a press release that they conducted the raids along Jalan Besar Road, Rangoon Road, Sing Joo Walk, Race Course Lane, Beach Road, Stamford Road, Cross Street and Kampong Bahru Road on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

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The authorities said that six women aged between 21 and 43 were arrested for offences under the Women's Charter and Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. They were providing sexual services and working illegally as masseurs.

According to the press release, three other outlets also found to be providing massage services without valid licences. "Actions will be taken against the owners of these unlicensed massage establishments," the statement added.

The police arrested 11 women for working illegally as hostesses in the public entertainment outlets located along Jalan Besar and Syed Alwi Road. The arrest was conducted for offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

The police said that they will take actions against the public entertainment operators for providing illegal employment as they have contravened the Public Entertainment Licence conditions.

In November 2017, the Parliament have imposed harsher penalties against unlicensed massage establishments and since then the authorities have been ramping up efforts to weed out the unlicensed massage parlours in the country.

Under the revised Massage Establishments Act, the penalty for unlicensed operators will be a maximum jail term of two years or a maximum fine of S$10,000 (up from S$1,000), or both. Previously, there was no jail term in the penalty.

A total of 32 people were arrested last month in a five-day anti-vice operation from Dec 18 to 22.