Taipei’s oldest district is allegedly turning into a haven for oldest profession in the world, with foreign sex workers arriving as tourists thanks to the New Southbound Policy, which was intended to enhance cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and countries in Southeast Asia.

Street prostitution is now rampant in the Wanhua District of Taipei, which has seen an influx of women from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and mainland China, who stand on street corners soliciting customers, the China Times reported.

It was alleged that most of the Vietnamese women were under the control of human-trafficking syndicates who offered airline tickets to girls who work as masseuses through the day and prostitutes at night.

The women allegedly charge NT$1,500 (US$48) for sex, a low price by Taiwan standards. According to Wanhua Precinct officials, there have been 37 arrests for prostitution – 16 Taiwanese women, six Vietnamese and five Thais – from the start of the year to July.

Many say the punishment is too small, with first-time offenders fined NT$1,500 and repatriated. The trafficking syndicates find replacements by continuously hiring first-time female visitors.