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P aradise is a brothel in Stuttgart. In Bangkok aged 19 I checked in to a place called Mango Inn with two school friends. But that scuzzy little concern, with its scarlet-haired manager and beery tourist crowd, was seriously small fry compared to this. Paradise is a chain, like Primark or Pizza Hut, with five branches and three more on the way. So business is booming, I say to Michael Beretin, a partner in the company.
Each of its six floors is picked out with a thick stripe of burgundy cladding making it look from the outside like a very tall, stale slice of red velvet cake. One is cuddling up to a pot-bellied man on a day bed. Several are clustered together, looking bored in their black glitter basques and hot pink fishnets, waiting for it to get busier. People think Amsterdam is the prostitution capital of Europe but Germany has more prostitutes per capita than any other country in the continent, more even than Thailand: , at the last count, serving 1.
Those figures were released a decade ago, soon after Germany made buying sex, selling sex, pimping and brothel-keeping legal in Two years later, prostitution in Germany was thought to be worth 6 billion euros — roughly the same as Porsche or Adidas that year. Quite a few people agree with Beretin — and not all of them are brothel owners grumbling about their tax bills. Sex workers could now enter into employment contracts, sue for payment and register for health insurance, pension plans and other benefits.
Exploiting prostitutes was still criminal but everything else was now above board. Two female politicians and a Berlin madam were pictured clinking their champagne glasses in celebration. None of the authorities I spoke to had ever heard of a prostitute suing for payment, either. And only 44 prostitutes have registered for benefits. The Netherlands legalised prostitution two years before Germany, just after Sweden had gone the other way and made the purchase of sex a criminal offence. Norway adopted the Swedish model - in which selling sex is permitted but anyone caught buying it is fined or imprisoned - in Iceland has followed suit, and France and Ireland look set to do the same.
But that might not be the case for long. A few days later, on Monday, a cross-party report in Britain also recommended the model. Given that at least 70 per cent of trafficking in Europe is into forced prostitution, a lot of people are arguing that the best way to reduce demand for trafficking is to reduce demand for prostitution. And one way to do that is to criminalise the buyer. Sex trafficking statistics are frustratingly incomplete, but a recent report estimated the of victims in Europe at , And Germany and the Netherlands have repeatedly ranked among the five worst blackspots.
She points out that Denmark, which decriminalised prostitution in — the same year Sweden made the purchase of sex illegal - has four times the of trafficking victims than its neighbour despite having around half the population. As Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam he spent millions of euros buying back window brothels, turning them into shops and restaurants in an effort to rid the city of the gangs that had moved in. Chancellor Angela Merkel attempted to raise the issue in the summer of but things got so out of hand there were riots at conferences that the matter was quietly dropped.
In December, the French parliament voted to criminalise the purchase of sex with fines of upward of euros for a first offence. He ushers us around the Stuttgart club - the sauna, porn cinema and private function room with old episodes of Knight Rider playing on the TV. Beretin spanks a passing woman on her bare bottom. More than 55, men come to Paradise every year. Everyone — punter and prostitute — pays a 79 euro entry fee.
That includes food there is a buffet right by the Jacuzzi into which a naked middle-aged man is lowering himself but the sex is extra. The going rate at Paradise is about 50 euros for half an hour, slightly cheaper than the hammam — another extra — which is offered at 53 euros for 30 minutes.
Pascha is a couple of rungs lower and there are many more rungs below that. Germany has been flooded with foreign sex workers, mostly from Eastern Europe. There are at least brothels in the city. I walk past five in the ten minutes it takes me to get from the train station to her office. Their garish hoardings look strikingly out of place in the pretty cobbled streets.
Britz, 55, sips tea from a china cup as she recounts stories of men being approached by prostitutes in supermarket car parks and even, once, at a funeral. Residents complain about used condoms littering the bus stops their children use to go to school. Its candlelit restaurants were known for their fine Mosel wines. A man in his forties with two young children describes the awkwardness of having to explain who the ladies on the side of the road are. The law leaves Britz with her hands tied. The prostitutes are their customers just as much as the punters are. Sometimes, more so. It was purpose-built by the city of Cologne in in an attempt to get them off the streets, and its age and institutional beginnings show.
It has the blue-and-orange colour scheme of a municipal leisure centre. They sit on stools outside their open doors in long, dark corridors that smell of cigarettes and air freshener. Rock music is pumping. They will need to sleep with at least four men to break even. They might visit the glory hole on the first floor or the transsexuals on the seventh. As at Paradise, the money paid for sex is negotiated directly with the prostitute and not shared with the club.
Also as at Paradise, Pascha has an on-site hairdresser. The prostitutes can get a colour for 40 euros there. Pascha has a tanning and nail salon, too, as well as a self-service restaurant run by a former prostitute called Linda and a boutique selling glittery platform shoes and condoms in packs of German lessons are free and include a one-hour tutorial in sexual practices taught using disturbingly childlike cartoons drawn by a local kindergarten teacher.
Both parties certainly cut their costs by eliminating health insurance and pension contributions. Some make several trips a year but few live permanently in the country, so they have little incentive to hand over a chunk of their earnings to social security. Beside him is a framed photograph of himself standing by a Harley Davidson Beretin owns five. Beretin is married with three sons aged 20, 18 and 9.
Actually, says Knop, managing prostitutes is completely legal. The women working here were given strict rules: they had to be completely naked at all times and, according to Sporer, were sometimes obliged to offer unprotected sex. If they broke a rule, they had to pay a fine to the brothel. I ask Suzi if any of the women working at Pascha have a pimp. Very, very high. Her voice is quiet but firm and her eye contact is fearless, breaking only when she searches for her cigarette lighter and Marlboro Lights.
Do some of the girls at Pascha have a man? Suzi, who is single, spent years working as a cleaner in hotels in Italy, Spain and Greece before becoming a prostitute. Anyone who thinks this is easy money is wrong. She squirms. Some men just turn up, tell her something dreadful from their childhood and leave. She finds those ones exhausting.
Become whatever they need. O ne Pascha regular is Robert. He comes two or three times a week with friends or a couple of colleagues from the pizzeria where he works. Robert is You spend your money, you know what you get. What would he do if he thought someone was being forced? His attitude is not unusual. Myria Vassiliadou, the EU anti-trafficking co-ordinator, tells me about a Nigerian woman she met recently in London.
This woman was trafficked to Britain where she served up to 20 clients a day. I paid for this. Forced prostitution comes in many guises. Some women are kidnapped, others are tricked with the promise of jobs as nannies or waitresses. Others choose to work as prostitutes but have no idea of the conditions that await them. If a woman asks them for help, they put her in touch with the police. And then he wanted to have money from her every week or something. Hopefully, she wound up somewhere like Solwodi.Holland women sex hot
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