9.30PM, TUESDAY 10 JUNE ON SBS ONE
“The Bordello of Europe” is not a title many nations would aspire to. But Germany’s liberal approach to prostitution has seen it become a magnet for tourists from other European countries that are taking a hard line against the sex trade.
On Tuesday’s Dateline, Amos Roberts takes his camera inside this often secretive world to reveal Germany’s booming ‘mega-brothel’ business and meet the people behind it.
It’s an old debate – is prostitution better legalised and regulated, or can it be limited by prohibitive laws?
Germany introduced the Prostitution Act in 2002, motivated by a desire to improve conditions for prostitutes and to make it possible for them to get health insurance, social security and a safe place to work.
Prostitution has since transformed German cities. In what could be described as ‘sex supermarkets’, prominent advertising and luxury surroundings attract an estimated one and a half million men every day.
Men can now go window-shopping for sex in Aachen, have unlimited sex with as many women as they like for 99 euros at a “flat-rate” brothel in Berlin, or visit an eight-story “mega-brothel” in Cologne.
“Prostitution has always been a social need”, Michael Beretin, Marketing Manager for major brothel chain Paradise, says. “It wasn’t invented by anybody. We need to deal with it and make it manageable.”
But the German government has decided that things have gone too far.
“Germany doesn’t want to be the brothel of the world,” Silvia Pantel, Member of Parliament for the Christian Democratic Union says. “Nor do we want to create incentives to attract sex tourism to Germany.”
Despite claims from brothel owners that the Prostitution Act has improved conditions for women, social workers who visit the brothels say that some women have been trafficked from Eastern Europe and Africa.
Pantel says that recent studies show that around 90% of the country’s sex workers have been forced into the job. She is at the forefront of a growing move to take a harder stance on prostitution.
“At the time it was thought that legalising prostitution would improve the prostitutes’ situation. But that totally failed. We now see that meaning well does not mean doing well.”
See the full report on Dateline at 9.30pm this Tuesday, 10 June.