Myanmar cracks down on massage parlors in capital

AP News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 8:04 AM
Myanmar cracks down on massage parlors in capital

Authorities in Myanmar have announced a ban on massage parlors and restrictions on restaurants and karaoke lounges in the country's remote capital, Naypyitaw, in a bid to curb disguised prostitution, a newspaper reported Monday.

The privately run Myanmar Times newspaper said restaurants and karaoke lounges have been ordered to install transparent glass in their rooms, while beauty parlors will be required to install "adequate" lighting.

Many massage parlors are fronts for brothels, while the other venues also sometimes offer sexual services. Prostitution is illegal in Myanmar and anyone caught running a brothel can be imprisoned.

The newspaper said the measures were announced on March 8 for Pyinmana township, which is the previously settled area more than 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of Yangon around which the new capital was established in 2005. Parts of Naypyitaw are custom-built to serve as the capital, with development restricted.

Pyinmana, a once sleepy place that served the logging industry, became a boom town of sorts as the population skyrocketed.

Entertainment venues mushroomed, drawing young women from nearby districts and as far away as the country's northeastern Shan State and causing concern among longtime residents about bad influences on local youth.