Limassol police are keeping a lid on a prostitution bust in Yermasoyia, where two apartments were raided after being suspected of operating as illegal brothels.
According to local media, police officers on Thursday early afternoon raided an apartment in Yermasoyia, Limassol district, while acting on information regarding prostitution activity at the location.
A 23-year-old female, described as a Romanian national, was found in the apartment during the raid, along with a male customer aged 34.
Police declined to comment on the case or whether any arrests had been made, but local media said a female was detained on drug-related charges. Additional reports said a raiding officer had found 15 grams of cannabis hidden underneath a coffee table in the living room.
After they were taken to a police station for questioning, both the woman and the man walked away, while a second woman aged 25, also described as Romanian national according to local media, had also been found in a different apartment in Yermasoyia during the entire operation that lasted from 1:55pm until 2:50pm.
A former anti-trafficking official told media in the past that 'male associates' had to work undercover, pay with marked bills, and even have sexual intercourse in order to present evidence in court
Police are reportedly investigating whether the two women might be victims of sex trafficking.
While prostitution in the Republic of Cyprus is legal, the sex industry remains unregulated with a law still on the books making the running of brothels anywhere unlawful by definition.
There has been little public debate on regulating prostitution in Cyprus. Police raids often result to arrests on misdemeanor charges or detentions during trafficking unit operations, meaning that those who can otherwise legally make a living by prostituting themselves could end up in prison for violating laws that ban the organisation and running of a brothel or face prosecution for unrelated offences.
Cypriot police in the past came under criticism for the way women were detained during raids, with critics crying foul over male “associates” who generally first have sexual intercourse with women and potential victims before police raids take place.
But Rita Superman, the former head of the police anti-trafficking unit, told media in the past that associates had to work undercover, pay with marked bills, and even have sexual intercourse in order to present evidence in court.
Superman, a staunch anti-prostitution activist who was recently elected to the House of Representatives, said background research and investigation was being conducted in advance prior to raids, adding that no minors had been found to be involved during raids.