Kandapara brothel in Tangail, Bangladesh
Sixteen-year-old prostitute Maya applies lipstick in front of a customer inside her small room at Kandapara brothel in Tangail, a northeastern city of Bangladesh, March 5, 2012.REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

Bangladesh's oldest brothel has been demolished and more than 700 prostitutes forced to flee, after protesters threatened to burn it down.

The 200-year-old Kandapara brothel, in Tangail City, was closed following pressure by activists, clerics and politicians. The building was demolished on Monday.

District police Chief Saleh Mohammad Tanvir told the news agency AFP that Muslim clerics and civil activists had staged a march demanding the eviction of the sex workers.

"On Sunday, the house owners of the brothel issued a notice ordering all the sex workers to leave the brothel. They left without any protest," Tanvir said.

However, Monowara Begum, head of a sex-workers group at Kandapara, accused the local mayor Shahidur Rahman - a ruling party official - of threatening the women with violence.

"He [the mayor] sent dozens of young men to the brothel armed with sticks, they told us that we have only one hour to leave the place or they would burn down the brothel with kerosene. After that owners started dismantling their houses," she said.

"The brothel's 773 girls were panicked. As they were leaving, their belongings such as televisions, fridges and furniture, which were loaded on seven trucks, were looted by local people."

Kandapara brothel was set up during the British colonial era. The prostitutes, mostly underage, had sex with up to 20 men every day. They earned about 1000 taka ( $12; £7) daily.

According to a 2012 Reuter's report, Kandapara's malnourished sex workers were forced to take Oradexon - a drug used by farmers to fatten livestock - to alter their appearance and look healthier.