Documentary-makers in Germany have claimed that legalising prostitution has turned the country’s capital Berlin into ‘Europe’s biggest brothel.’
Sex trade laws were radically liberalised by the German government in 2002 but a documentary called Sex – Made In Germany estimates that one million men pay for sex every day.
The film was based on two years of research captured using hidden cameras and explores Berlin’s world of ‘flat-rate’ brothels where customers pay €49 (£42) for as much sex as they want.
Laws were originally relaxed in the hope that they would offer a degree of protection to prostitutes who now have access to health insurance and benefits.
But more than a decade on the changes in the law have brought criticism from those who claim that they have simply made it easier for traffickers to force foreign women into prostitution, according to The Guardian.
It is thought that around two thirds of the country’s 400,000 sex workers come from abroad.
But according to figures from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) the number of reported cases of sexual trafficking in 2011 in Germany – 636 – were down by a third on a decade earlier.
Red light districts have also become much more prominent in Germany’s major cities – there are between 3,000 and 3,500 established brothels in Germany and the trade is now big business.
According to public services union Ver.di, some 14.5billion Euros is accrued by the sex trade in Germany annually.
Roshan Heiler, head of counselling at the Aachen branch of women’s rights organisation Solwodi, is unsurprised by the numbers of men paying for sex because it is so cheap and they won’t get prosecuted.
Defending the laws, Monika Lazar, of the Alliance 90/Greens party, told The Guardian: ‘Prostitution is still socially stigmatized, but the law is helping to strengthen the position of prostitutes and ensuring women and men are better protected.’
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