Booming property prices are killing off a Paris' red-light district off Pigalle as the area is becoming a fashionable hangout for the upwardly mobile. Real estate prices have risen by 25% in the past five years while the hostess bars have been closing
one after the other, plummeting from 84 in 2005 to a handful today.
Rue Frochot was long the epicentre of Pigalle's bar a hostesses , where scantily-clad girls, watched over by a matronly Madame , offered clients drinks and much else if
the price was right. The girls were dubbed les bouchonneuses as they were paid according to the number of champagne bouchons , or corks, for which they managed to bill a client - at around EUR150 a bottle.
Today, there are none
left on the street. The mysterious black facade of the notorious Dirty Dick still stands, but inside, it has been transformed into an inoffensive Hawaiian cocktail bar. Rue Frochot had 14 establishments in 2010. The last to close was Le F'Exhib,
where in late December.
The change has been so abrupt that Pauline Veron, the local Socialist deputy mayor, wants the town hall to step in and buy up closing hostess bars to avoid the district ending up with wall-to-wall nightclubs and retain some
of its libertarian and roguish spirit .
Volkan Sukan, who recently bought the F'Exhib and owns another bar and bistro in the area, said the days of hostess bars were over for good reason:
Tourists came to buy a drink for 30 or 40 euros (and) ended up paying 500, there were complaints, so the police put a stop to it.
Meanwhile peep shows in the nearby area are becoming lap dancing clubs for stag parties while sex shops are losing their opaque windows to become love stores for couples. Sukan comments:
don't think Pigalle is losing its soul, the profile is changing but it's still more risque' than other districts. There's something for all tastes: gay and lesbian clubs, cocktail bars, discos, restaurants, theatres, concert halls, music shops, sex shops
on the boulevard. But Parisians will always find something to moan about.
She was held for months without charge or trial, forced to labour seven days a week without wages, and made to pay for her incarceration. Pan Li is one of hundreds of thousands who have been held at their own expense in China s little known detention
system for female sex workers and their clients.
Beijing has heralded this year's decision to supposedly abolish re-education through labour (RTL) camps, long condemned for lack of judicial oversight. But human rights groups say it is partial
progress at best, given the persistence of similar measures allowing imprisonment without trial.
Thousands of people are still thought to be held in a parallel system known as "custody and education", overseen by public security
officials rather than judges. Unlike prisoners, or RTL inmates, the detainees must pay living costs and take compulsory tests for sexually transmitted diseases.
The original intention ... was to penalise unlawful behaviour that did not reach the
level of a criminal offence but it has become a penalty even harsher than criminal penalties, warns a new report from Asia Catalyst , a health and human rights group that wants the system abolished. Few have even heard of it, not least because stigma and
fear of retaliation make former detainees reluctant to discuss it.
The supreme court of Canada struck down all current restrictions on prostitution, including bans on brothels and on street solicitation, declaring that the provisions unconstitutionally violated prostitutes' safety.
The sweeping 9-0 decision will take
effect a year from now, inviting the Canadian parliament to come up with some other way to regulate the sex trade, if it chooses to do so.
The court found that existing provisions against sex workers were overly broad or grossly disproportionate.
A massive six-story development with an airport like lounge and heliport is being proposed at Walkers Court in the heart of Soho. The decision on this development is taking place
at Westminster Council planning committee on Tuesday 10 December .
A development of this kind will change the very character of the area, wreck the lively diverse community there and lead to the eviction of sex workers
from walk-up flats. Residents and small independent business will be particularly affected.
Possibly connected to this development, 200 police raided and closed 20 flats in Soho on the evening of 4 December. Both the
police and Westminster Council claim that the action was to save victims of trafficking. None of the women we are in touch are trafficked and they feel strongly that this is being used as an excuse to target them. Women are now fighting to defend their
rights to work in safety and support their families.
The raids, like the bedroom tax and benefit cap, are socially cleansing Soho for the super rich.
Please take action now:
Before Tuesday 10 December, write to the Head of the Planning Committee Robert Davis firstname.lastname@example.org with your objections.
Join us at the planning committee meeting on Tuesday 10
December 6.30pm at City Hall, 17th floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6PQ to demonstrate your objections.
Sign the petition to stop the eviction and prosecution of sex workers.
Over 25 sex workers' flats in Soho, Central London were raided by police last night (4 December). Police broke down doors, slapped closure notices on the doors of premises and threw women out onto the street. Some immigrant women were taken into
custody on the pretext that they may be victims of trafficking, despite their protestations that they were not being forced to work. Other women were given papers instructing them to appear in court today and tomorrow (5 and 6 December).
Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes commented:
It is outrageous that the police are raiding premises where women are working together safely and collectively with friends. The police must know that some
women will end up working on the street as a result, where it is much more dangerous. Most of the women thrown out of premises are mothers and grandmothers who have now lost their livelihood.
Evictions and closure of the flats of sex
workers are opposed by many other local residents and businesses because they feel that if the Soho girls go the whole character of Soho will change. It is this unique, diverse and tolerant community -- immigrant, LGBTQ clubs, small independent
businesses, theatre --- which attracts many visitors from around the world. People fear that the evictions are aimed at making way for large scale development, like the one proposed in Walkers Court, which most residents are against.
The German town of Saarbrucken near the French border is developing as a thriving location for the sex trade.
The city has 170,000 residents and a population of over 1,000 call girls with a steady influx East Europeans joining the sex trade, often to
escape poverty at home.
Early next year their numbers will swell even further with the opening of a new EUR4.5m 6,000sq-metre mega brothel in Saarbrucken's Burbach district. It will employ 90 full-time sex workers and be run by a permanent staff
of 45. The establishment has been described as one of the largest brothels in Europe.
Local authorities bemoan the fact that they have virtually no power to halt the expansion of the city's already booming sex industry, but two factors have
combined to create Saarbru cken's seemingly unstoppable sex trade boom.
The first is what was once hailed as an enlightened German government decision to liberalise what were considered to be outdated and repressive laws governing
prostitution and the sex trade. Back in 2001, under Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, Germany's governing Social Democrat-Green coalition tried to make prostitution a job like any other by passing laws that gave call girls full rights to health insurance,
pensions and other benefits provided they paid the requisite taxes.
The second factor that has contributed to the boom in the sex trade is the city's proximity to the French cities of Strassbourg, Nancy and Metz, where the legality of prostitution
is a grey area, and soon to get worse with heavy fines for those caught buying sex.
Paradise Island Entertainment, which is behind the city's new mega-brothel project, said it chose the city precisely because of its proximity to France.
Prostitution is on the rise in Spain and both the average age of clients and prices are falling.
Campaigners have claimed an increase of between 5 and 10% for streetwalkers . Both the associations and the police say that there are at least
37,000 sex workers in Spain (a figure that does not take into account escorts or women and students who sell sex on a non-regular basis).
Spaniards are a minority within the whole and account for only 12%. Most of the sex workers are from Latin
American (42%, mostly Brazilians), from Eastern Europe (28%), Africa (15%) and Asia (5%).
The crisis has had an effect on the prices. The associations say that sexual services performed for between 30 and 50 euros over the past few years are now
regularly had for between 15 and 20 euros.
There are over 1,200 sex workers in the capital, and two years ago the Madrid city council brought in heavy fines for prostitutes trying to get clients. The measures has not had an effect, however, as it
is difficult to catch them in the act.
Germany's biggest political parties have agreed to ban so-called flat-rate sex offered by some brothels in the country.
The move is part of a clampdown on Germany's booming prostitution industry that has been doing very well since a 2002 law legalized
sex work. Deals are offered in some brothels for men to have have unlimited sex for 100 euros.
Anja Strieder, spokeswoman for the centre-left Social Democrats, confirmed a report by Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that a ban was agreed
during coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Union bloc.
She said better protection for victims of enforced prostitution and stricter rules for brothel operators will also be included in a bill that could be introduced once
the government is formally appointed.
Utrecht city council has agreed a new location for the city's sex workers, five months after the licences for most of the city's floating brothels were withdrawn.
Mayor Aleid Wolfsen cancelled the permits in July because of supposed concerns the
boat owners were involved in human trafficking. The boats on the Zandpad must now be removed by March.
The sex workers, some of whom had attempted to take over the boats themselves, will be relocated to a new location with 162 workspaces, local
broadcaster RTV Utrecht said.
The city is also introducing a minimum age of 21 for prostitutes and says the windows must have reasonable rents. Would-be brothel owners will only be given three-year licences for no more than 20% of the windows.
The French parliament has backed part of a bill that imposes a 1,500 euro fine on anyone paying for sex.
Protests for and against the bill took place outside the National Assembly in Paris as the debate took place.
MPs voted for the fine in a
show of hands late on Friday night although the full text of the bill - which contains 20 articles - will be put to the vote on 4 December.
Under the new provision, repeat offenders risk a fine of 3,750 euros. Alternatively, they can attend a
course to make them aware of the risks involved in the sale of sex. One article aims to decriminalise France's estimated 40,000 prostitutes by scrapping a 2003 law that bans soliciting on the streets. The law would instead target the customers.
Only about 30 members of the National Assembly were present when the debate began on Friday afternoon.
A draft law that goes before the French parliament this week -- and which has a good chance of passing in some form -- will introduce a EUR1,500 (£1,250) fine, rising to EUR3,000 at the second offence, for prostitutes' customers. Paradoxically, the
proposed law would also make it easier for women, or men, to offer their bodies for sale on the streets. It would increase state funds to help prostitutes seek different lives. It would make it easier for foreign prostitutes to denounce traffickers and
remain legally in France.
Supporters say this is a long overdue attempt to end the hypocrisies and contradictions surrounding prostitution in France.
Opponents of the new law -- including several groups who represent the estimated 40,000
prostitutes in France -- say it will make paid-for sex less legally coherent and more dangerous. If clients are forced underground, prostitutes will be, too. They will, more than ever, be at the mercy of traffickers, pimps and violent clients.
draft law seems likely to pass the lower house, or National Assembly, but will be opposed in the upper house, or Senat. Most argument has focused on Article 16, which penalises clients. But the law would also make it easier for prostitutes to ply their
trade. It would scrap a 2003 law, that bans soliciting on the streets.
Presumably France doesn't have any incitement laws. How can women be allowed to offer, or even encourage, men to break the law by accepting that offer?
A decade after Germany loosened already relaxed restrictions on prostitution, campaigners are seeking to ban the trade, with leading feminist Alice Schwarzer labeling the country a paradise for pimps.
Dozens of politicians, actors and
journalists this month have signed Schwarzer's appeal to Chancellor Angela Merkel and parliament to ban sex work. She said:
Germany tolerates, accepts and promotes prostitution, mostly at the expense of the poorest
women from neighboring countries.
She urged a review of the 2002 law that theoretically gave sex workers access to unemployment insurance, controlled working conditions and medical coverage. She claimed that the law backfired and has
turned Germany into a paradise for pimps who can now more easily exploit women, especially from poorer central European countries like Romania and Bulgaria. She added that the liberalization of prostitution has been a disaster for the people
involved, estimating the number of prostitutes working in Germany now at 700,000.
In a 2007 report, the government conceded that the outcome had been disappointing and the legal change did not actually improve the welfare of prostitutes.
The study found only 1% of prostitutes had an employment contract. However even treading water is an improvement saving at least the arrests, jailings, ruined lives and policing costs associated with prohibition.
Schwarzer of course cited sex
trafficking and slavery but National police data shows that reported cases of human trafficking have been on the decline since the introduction of the new law, from 811 in 2002 to 432 in 2011.
The renewed calls to ban prostitution have now made it
onto the agenda of ongoing coalition talks between Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats.
Undine de Riviere, a sex worker and spokeswoman for a professional union of suppliers of sexual and erotic services, is part of
the opposition. She told the Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung:
Feminists do not think we can speak for ourselves. The desire to control sexuality and prostitution has always been great and very difficult to get out of
Montreal's miserable new mayor has served warning to erotic massage parlours that he wants to shut them down.
Denis Coderre claimed massage parlours were havens for prostitution and human trafficking. He said they will become the target of a police
crackdown and possible legislation that will include hefty fines.
Erotic massage parlours often obtain a permit as a legitimate therapeutic massage business, hiding their true purpose.
Coderre said more inspections are necessary. Currently,
the industry largely goes unchecked. He also wants to harmonize the way permits are doled out in Montreal's 19 different boroughs. Part of the attack will involve inspections of these establishments. And new rules would punish those found to be falsely
representing their business.
A police spokeswoman estimated that there are nearly 350 massage parlours operating in Montreal and many more in its suburbs.
Germany has formed its first professional association of sex workers to lobby and fight for the rights of sex workers as well as improve their lives and working conditions.
In an interview with Spiegel Online , Johanna Weberb, the founder of the
Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services, said that the association caters to different sex workers working in different fields. She said:
Anyone working in the sex industry can become a member. Our
members work in all sectors of the sex industry.
She further said the association was borne from the efforts of sex worker rights advocates in the past:
We are not the first to attempt to found such
an association. There have always been dedicated advocates who have tried to build something, and we still benefit from some of their work today. We want to establish a permanent organization for sex workers. This is very important right now.
Among one of the undertakings of the association is addressing new policies and legislation that aim to curtail sex work in Germany. According to Weberb, the new legislation currently being discussed:
Lumps sex work together with human trafficking and deals with fully unrealistic beliefs. We are not fundamentally opposed to certain regulations of brothels, but the provisions of the draft law are much too wobbly, and will ensure that our jobs aren't improved, but rather eradicated. The same rules that apply to small residential brothels are supposed to now apply to larger ones. That would mean the closure of half the brothels.
Erotic parlours in Malaysia are offering a new type of massage, where cheese is licked from the client's body. According to the Malayan tabloid Harian Metro, cheese massages are becoming increasingly popular across the country.
involves being bathed and then having cheese spread on them and licked off. It costs around RM185 (£36/$50).
The newspaper report said they had to wait two hours to be seen at one parlour in Kuala Lumpur as the service was so popular.
Massage parlours are often used to disguise sex work businesses and authorities overlook them. Following the release of the report, Harian Metro said authorities plan to take action against any businesses offering sexual services.
Police Scotland has written to the city council arguing that if it grants licences for five saunas it should be on condition that no condoms and items of a sexual nature are allowed on the premises.
Sex workers' charity Scot-pep has condemned the
police proposal saying it could lead to an HIV epidemic. Campaigners for a safer sex trade have said that any ban on condoms would not stop people having sex but it would result in unprotected sex and higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted
Four Edinburgh saunas have been closed down by the council, but seven
others have been given permission to continue operating.
Police Scotland failed to convince councillors that their reprehensible condition that no items of a sexual nature should be allowed on the premises should be imposed. The only
additional conditions imposed, after being requested by police, were an alcohol ban and requirement that the sauna be in good working order.
There were 13 sauna applications to be heard yesterday, five in public and eight in private. Licences were
approved for Carol's Sauna, London Street Sauna, Ambassador Sauna, No Eighteen, Steamworks, Scorpio and New Town Sauna.
Speaking after the meeting, convener of the licensing sub- committee, Councillor Gavin Barrie, said:
The committee has carefully reviewed all the information presented, including information from any objectors and reports from Police Scotland. Each application was considered on its individual merits and of the 13 public entertainment
licences considered today, seven have been renewed.
Among the saunas that had their licence applications rejected last night were Blair Street, New Gentle Touch, Paradise and Dundas Street, though the decisions could be appealed. Two
other decisions were deferred.
Rooms rented out for prostitution in Germany don't qualify for a tax break granted to hotels, a federal court said.
A VAT rate of 19% applies when rooms are used for commercial purposes, including sex work, the Federal Fiscal Court ruled from the
southern city of Munich. The reduced tax rate for hotels is 7%.
The owner of the Eros Centre in Duesseldorf, rented out 13 erotic rooms equipped with jacuzzis to sex workers on a daily or weekly basis. He argued the rooms were
eligible for the tax break because they were not specifically designed for the provision of sexual services, but operated as regular hotel rooms.
However the court ruled:
From the location of the building in a
red-light district, it is clear that the plaintiff did not keep the premises for accommodation, but for the practice of prostitution.
Switzerland's first sex drive-in, which opened two months ago in a bid to take prostitution off Zurich's streets, has been a success, the city said following an initial evaluation. Michael Herzig, director of social services for sex workers in the city,
After two months I can say that this guarded prostitution site is working. We did not have any major problems, such as with pimps, violence or the neighbourhood
He said he was
surprised things had gone so smoothly. He noted that an average of 14 sex workers had used the site each day since it opened compared to about 30 who had been working in the previous red-light street.
The drive-in has a track where the sex workers
can parade and negotiate a price, and nine so-called sex boxes where they and their clients can park and conclude the transaction. Machines resembling parking metres have been installed, and the prostitutes are required to contribute 5.0 Swiss
francs (4 euros) each night in taxes to help Zurich cover the cost of running the place.
Security guards check there is only one man in each car coming in and are there to respond to alarm buttons in each sex bo x. There are on-site doctors
and social workers.
Hege Grostad is a university student, sex worker,and lobbyist. She is at the heart of a grassroots campaign to decriminalise and regulate the sex industry.
It is a campaign being fought within Norway's well-developed welfare state, not over
the morality of prostitution, but over sex workers' rights to pensions and health and safety protection. The most vocal proponents of change are a group of women who claim they chose this career for themselves.
Selling sex is not illegal in Norway
but, since 2009, buying it has been. The industry has become progressively criminalised, with police operations aimed at those who knowingly rent property to sex workers.
Ase Michaelsen, MP for the Progress Party and a member of the Parliamentary
Justice Committee, wants to decriminalise the buying of sex:
As the law might look nice on paper, but in reality it hasn't worked. If you have problems with violent customers, you're not motivated to call the police
... because you might risk that they will attempt to sabotage your business
The criminalisation of purchasing sex in Norway has hardly affected the number of buyers, according to reports from Prosentret, an organisation that provides
help and advice to sex workers. Its director, Bjorg Norli, believes that criminalising the sex industry has had a directly negative consequence on many of those who sell sex.