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Indonesia shuts down massive prostitution complex

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Photo - Sex workers of Dolly red-light district sit on the road in a protest  against the closing of the prostitution complex in Surabaya, East java, Indonesia, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. The government has shut down a red-light district in Indonesia's second largest town amid protests by pimps and sex workers as well as dependents.  (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Sex workers of Dolly red-light district sit on the road in a protest against the closing of the prostitution complex in Surabaya, East java, Indonesia, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. The government has shut down a red-light district in Indonesia's second largest town amid protests by pimps and sex workers as well as dependents. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
News,World,Indonesia

SURABAYA, Indonesia (AP) — Officials officially shut a massive prostitution complex in Indonesia's second-largest city on Wednesday amid protests by sex workers, who said their livelihoods were being destroyed.

The mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini, announced the closure of the "Dolly" prostitution complex in a ceremony at the city's Islamic Center Building, about a mile (two kilometers) away.

A Cabinet minister and the governor of East Java attended the ceremony, where about 100 local figures signed a statement supporting the closure of one of Southeast Asia's largest red-light districts. About a thousand Muslims rallied at the Islamic Center to express their support.

Meanwhile, hundreds of prostitutes and others who said their livelihoods depend on the sex trade blocked streets leading to the Dolly complex in protest of its closure.

The government plans to provide $425 to each of about 1,500 sex workers to help them start a new life.

Most of Indonesia's 246 million people are Muslims. However, prostitution rings operate openly in all major cities despite opposition from Islamic conservatives, some of whom want to replace Indonesia's secular system with one bound by Islamic law.

Rismaharini, the first female mayor of Surabaya, has pledged to close down all brothels in the city.

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