Eleven sex saunas in Edinburgh have been granted public entertainment licences, after a committee meeting on Wednesday.
Despite objections that the venues run as brothels, councillors unanimously voted in support of each applicant.
MSP Rhoda Grant, last night hit out at the Council’s decision, saying there can’t be “pockets of illegality.”
She added that even the Government is aware these saunas have been used to traffic women.
She said: “It is not acceptable to have vulnerable women open to exploitation in this way.”
Police present at the committee meeting said they had no grounds to object to the licences being granted.
Edinburgh has issued permits for the saunas since 1982, despite widely-held belief that the saunas are illegally operating as brothels.
Michael Anthony, 59, has long-campaigned against the saunas and accused Council chiefs of breaking the law.
He said: “The council and police have reason to believe they are brothels and therefore operating as criminal enterprises”.
“Senior police officers, from the chief constable down to shift inspectors, have neglected their public duty”, he added.
Scottish charity Zero Tolerance, which tries to tackle the causes of men’s violence against women, are appalled by the decision.
Co-ordinator Jenny Kemp said: “Sexual exploitation is a huge problem in Edinburgh and saunas are a key place where that exploitation happens.”
But campaign group Scotpep, which supports sex workers, welcomed the decision.