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A brothel is a place where people may come to engage in sexual activity with a prostitute.Technically, any place where prostitution commonly takes place is a brothel, but in places where prostitution or the operation of brothels is illegal, establishments may attempt to disguise their involvement in prostitution by referring to their business as something else, such as a massage parlor, a bar, or a strip club. Brothels are legal only in some parts of the world, though some illegal brothels may be tolerated.Such brothels often operate disguised as legitimate business, such as massage parlors, saunas or spas.In other places, prostitution itself is legal, but most activities which surround it (such as operating a brothel, pimping, soliciting in a public place) are prohibited, often making it very difficult for people to engage in prostitution without breaking any law.The Netherlands has one of the most liberal prostitution policies in the world, and attracts sex tourists from many other countries.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph (Australia), illegal brothels in Sydney now outnumber licensed operations by four to one; according to a 2009 report, in Queensland only 10% of prostitution happens in licensed brothels, the rest remains either unregulated or illegal.
Prostitution and the operation of brothels is illegal in many countries, though known illegal brothels may be tolerated.
Such situations exist in many parts of the world, but the region most often associated with these policies is Asia.
This is the situation, for example, in the United Kingdom, Italy and in France.
In a few countries, prostitution and operating a brothel is legal and regulated. Most of these countries favor brothels, at least in theory, as they are considered to be less problematic than street prostitution.