Medellín, Colombia, bans sex work in two areas after U.S. tourist found with minors

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The mayor of Medellín, the second-largest city in Colombia, announced Monday a temporary ban on prostitution in two of its neighborhoods, days after an American tourist was discovered in a hotel room with two underage girls, according to The Associated Press.

Mayor Federico Gutiérrez said the ban would affect Provenza and El Poblado, popular destinations for international tourists and local sex workers, and he cited concerns about sex trafficking involving minors.

The ban will be in place for six months, and bars in Lleras Park will be required to close by no later than 1 a.m. over the month of April, according to a statement from the mayor’s office released Monday.

The latest actions “strengthen the measures against sexual and commercial exploitation, especially of girls, boys and adolescents, in areas affected by this crime,” according to the statement.

It also states that the mayor’s office plans to meet with hotel, restaurant and bar owners “to establish rules around the issue.”

At a news conference on Monday, Gutierrez said, “We have to recover control of this area — it is also very important for us to protect the community.”

Sex work that is conducted between two consenting adults is not illegal in Colombia, but local governments reserve the right to impose temporary bans on the activity if they pose a threat to public order, according to AP, which also reported that the 36-year-old American tourist was held in police custody and then released.

At the news conference, Gutiérrez urged authorities to investigate the incident. “It is sad to see how many people believe they can come to Medellín and do whatever they want,” he said.

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