As Bahrain’s new local escort agencies struggle to survive amid mounting accusations of sexual exploitation and harassment, the city’s mayor has resigned.
Hassan Jadallah, who had served as the city councilor in the Gulf state for the past seven years, said in a statement on Saturday that he has been asked to resign as the mayor of Bahrain City.
Bahrain City, a city of more than 250,000 people located in the southern province of Aqaba, has long been a hub for escort services.
The city has a large number of local escorts who operate under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior.
Last year, a local escort was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, who was reportedly kidnapped from a hotel.
A court ordered the escort to undergo sexual and physical therapy.
Last month, the councilor was also accused of using his position to help cover up a crime in which a 14 year old girl was sexually assaulted in the presence of other escorts.
Jadallah said the allegations were the result of a smear campaign, and that he was forced to resign after the city was informed of them.
The local councilor said the accusations against him were made by a man who was working with a third party who has no connection to the council, adding that he is in contact with the victim and police.
He also called on the public to help him resolve the allegations against him.
“I will be resigning as mayor of my city, to give voice to the cries of my constituents,” Jadallas said in the statement.
He said he will continue working on the campaign for the reopening of the Bahrain City police station and the establishment of a special investigative unit for the city.
Bahrein City is located on the southern tip of the Gulf, a region where many women have fled from forced marriage and trafficking.
The number of complaints filed against local escort services has grown in recent years.
In 2015, the Ministry for Women launched an investigation after a 13-year old girl alleged that a man had raped her.
The investigation led to the arrest of two suspects and the resignation of the city mayor.
The Bahraini government has also come under criticism in recent months for its handling of a crackdown on suspected human rights abusers.
Bahriddah police have cracked down on several prominent rights groups that were instrumental in the anti-government protests that swept through the country in 2013.
Bahranis have been protesting against a crackdown against the protests and the government’s decision to remove them from office.