The Singapore police had an eventful evening.
Videos uploaded onto Facebook on Friday, Dec. 8, at about 11pm, showed police raiding unlicensed brothels at Rowell Road:
Near supper spot
For the uninitiated, Rowell Road is one alley away from Desker Road, which is right beside popular supper spot Swee Choon Tim Sum.
The police can be seen raiding at least two different shophouses, based on the videos and one photo posted.
According to the post, the police showed up in full ski masks and used battering rams, sledgehammers and circular saw to conduct their raid by breaking down the front door.
Also present, according to the post, was the media who were on hand to take photos of those arrested.
Hotbed for prostitution
Although much of the prostitution activity has died down in the last 10 years in the Jalan Besar area, brothels located in shophouses along Desker Road and Rowell Road lanes are still in operation.
They have traditionally housed transsexuals, who ply their trade along that stretch.
This area is bustling with activity on weekends, especially Sundays.
The clientele are mainly foreign workers in Singapore.
Keeping sex workers safe
In August 2014, the Law Society of Singapore launched a S$2 million project to increase public access to legal aid.
This includes the introduction of mobile legal clinics to reach out to sex workers that following year, with the aim of providing a safer work environment and easier access to justice.
The Law Society had linked up with Project X, a volunteer outreach group that protects sex workers' rights.
Since 2008, Project X had been going to Geylang, Changi Village and Desker Road every week, befriending sex workers and distributing safe-sex resources such as condoms, health guides and HIV testing coupons.
Prostitution is not an offence in Singapore, but it is against the law to solicit in public.
The first pilot legal clinic was held at a shophouse in Rowell Road for 30 sex workers from India, Indonesia and Malaysia in 2014.
Three months later, a second trial clinic at a shophouse in Geylang was held for 20 sex workers from Singapore, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The person who uploaded the police raid Facebook post is Vanessa Ho, who is with Project X.