Germany Has Become the Cut-Rate Prostitution Capital of the World

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The presence of thousands of brothels and hundreds of thousands of prostitutes has heightened competition and pushed prices down steeply in the German sex trade. One tourist from Florida, who visits the country three times annually to pay for cheap sex, compares the scene to a discount supermarket: “Germany is like Aldi for prostitutes,” he says.

Prostitution became legal in Germany in 2002, and the open sex trade has taken off in the years since. There are reportedly around 3,000 red-light establishments in the country, and 500 brothels in Berlin alone. It’s been estimated that more than 1 million men pay for sex in Germany every day.

One of the classic arguments for legalizing prostitution is that recognizing and regulating the world’s oldest profession would improve the conditions of sex workers. Instead, recent reports paint legalized prostitution in Germany largely as a failure.

In May, Der Spiegel published a series of stories highlighting the atrocious conditions endured by prostitutes in Germany, some of whom say they arrived in the country against their will. Typically, the stories involve young women from Romania and Bulgaria who were unwittingly duped into coming to Germany, where they were forced to service dozens of men daily in flat-rate deals where customers can have all the sex they want for an allotted time period, starting at just €49 (around $65). The women say customers are known to take drugs to improve their sexual performance in order to get their money’s worth. Some women report getting paid a pittance and never being allowed to leave their brothels. During rare breaks from work, they share a room with other prostitutes, where there is a single bed and no other furniture.

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In early June, a documentary aired on ARD, Germany’s public-broadcasting station, called Sex — Made in Germany. The film was made in part by bringing hidden cameras into brothels over the course of two years. “Sex is cheaper than anywhere else,” one brothel owner in Berlin says on camera. “Germany is the biggest whorehouse in Europe, no question,” a Danish brothel customer notes, according to Die Welt.

Germany’s prostitution scene has attracted visitors from around the world. Specialty tour operators have been booking groups of men from Asia, the Middle East and North America on “sex tourism” trips to Germany for years. As more men and money have flowed into the country thanks to prostitution, more and more women have arrived to serve them with the hopes of making a decent living. Instead, what seems to have happened is that the brothels have been aggressively competing with one another for business, and prices have plummeted. Alia, a 23-year-old prostitute working in Cologne, related the following account to Der Spiegel:

The going rate for oral sex and intercourse used to be €40 [$54] on Geestemünder Strasse. But when the nearby city of Dortmund closed its streetwalking area, more women came to Cologne, says Alia. ‘There are more and more women now, and they drop their prices so that they’ll make something at all,’ she complains. Bulgarian and Romanian women sometimes charge less than €10 [$13], she says. ‘One woman here will even do it for a Big Mac.’

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An English-language news site in Germany called The Local interviewed a 39-year-old man from Florida named Andrew about his brothel-frequenting habits. He said he originally visited Germany in his mid-20s because he was interested in the car culture and the history, but has since kept coming back three times annually because prostitution is legal and the prostitutes are so affordable. He even compared the marketplace for the world’s oldest profession to a discount grocery chain:

‘There’s a risk of being arrested in the U.S., but not here,’ he said. ‘And it’s cheaper. Germany is like Aldi for prostitutes.’

Twenty minutes with a woman in Frankfurt costs as little as €20 [$27], he said. ‘This is more than enough time,’ he admitted.

Despite the critics’ claims of atrocious conditions brought on by legalized prostitution in Germany, there are many who don’t want to go back to the days when the trade was cordoned off in the black market. “Prostitution is still socially stigmatized, and that has not changed in the few years in which the law has been in effect,” Monika Lazar, a spokeswoman on women’s issues for the Alliance 90/Greens party, said, according to the Guardian. “But the law is helping to strengthen the position of prostitutes and ensuring women, and men, are much better protected.”

67 comments
RichardSchulte
RichardSchulte

This is for you ,,!,, and this is for the horse you rode in on ,,/,,.

PollyWorkinger
PollyWorkinger

Cheaper in Rockford Illinios, a pack of smokes and a crack rock will get you some!! TRAVEL TO ROCKFORD, WE NEED THE TOURISM DOLLARS!!

TimFuller
TimFuller

This is in Time?  My gawd.  This is a prime example of what happens when you hire religiously inflicted anti-European moralists to write articles.   As an American expat in Germany it's embarrassing.  Enjoy.

rowarho3
rowarho3

I leave for Berlin August 31 for 4 nights.

DeanCris
DeanCris

Ahhh the Germans! Still treating treating their fellow human beings like garbage dumps and toilets 70 years after the holocaust. Are they still using human corpses as crash test dummies too?

leon1376
leon1376

Significantly enough, it's legal to have sex with animals in Germany. Gay sex and animal sex were legalized on the same day in - I think it was 1969. Every so often the German government makes noises about making animal sex illegal but it's far too ingrained in the German culture for that to ever happen. Maybe that's the real reason sex with a woman is so cheap. The women have to compete with dogs and sheep and donkeys. Most German men seem to prefer the animals over the women. If it wasn't for tourists, German women would be out of luck.  

haile.xiao
haile.xiao

This isn't a failure of legalization as much as a failure of the Bundespolizei to fight human trafficking.

tuula.salonen
tuula.salonen

How is a country a "capital" of anything? Isn't that reserved for cities?

hallux
hallux

@tuula.salonen you're being too literal again, man.  But since you asked, what's the capital of the United States?  The nation's capital, as it's oft called?  Washington, D.C., isn't it?

Not strictly speaking a city, though it has some of the features of one, it is the Military District of Columbia.  Now before you try to shout me down, and say I'm splitting hairs, let me point out that for one thing:  Every city in the US belongs to a state or territory, etc., EXCEPT for Washington D.C., which belongs to NO STATE.  Then again, how many US representatives does any CITY have in congress, and how many electoral votes?

I forget how many non-voting members of congress D.C. has, but the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants them at least as many as the least populace state.  How many American CITIES are mentioned by name in the constitution?  None.  It only mentions states, and none by name that I could find, except at the end, and only to specify which signatory and member of the delegation came from which state.  The status of D.C. as Capital of the United States, and seat of government, is laid out in Section 8, where Congress is granted its  powers, including "exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, become the Seat of the Government of the United States [...]" which again, makes it wholly unlike any CITY in the United States.

A capital, colloquially speaking, is a chief location, and isn't necessarily a seat of government.  For example, Gilroy California is known as the garlic capital of the world.  It's a city, but does it have OFFICIAL status?  Of course not, they just grow a sh-tonne of garlic there, and make all manner of wacky things out of it, including garlic ice-cream, if you can believe that!


cmd98024
cmd98024

My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3 For the lips of a forbidden[a] woman drip honey,
and her speech[b] is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to[c] Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.

7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated[d] always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?[e]
21 For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders[f] all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.

JoelRichards
JoelRichards

I've been a hobbyist for over ten years and I have to say this article makes the scene in Germany sound gross. Why would anyone travel thousands of miles so they could do twenty minute dates? How much sense does it make to spend thousands on airfare and hotel so that you can spend less than $70 on sex? Haven't these guys heard of Backpage? These customers are like drunks who can't taste the liquor they're drinking anymore. I'd have gone to the DR and booked a week at a resort. 

PollyWorkinger
PollyWorkinger

@JoelRichards no kidding, I had more fun at an all inclusive resort, was fed, drank all I could drink, ate all I could eat, and played in the ocean. I can't imagine actually "wasting money" on bootie. UGH. 

You can get it free at almost any bar near closing time. Let's be honest. Even if you're ugly, free at closing time.....cause they're all too drunk to notice

IloveGermany
IloveGermany

I wonder how much it would cost to give a romanian prostitute cleveland steamer followed by a dirty sanchez, two big macs?

IloveGermany
IloveGermany

Who wants to go to Germany with me to tag team some bitches?

RichardVandiamondsworth
RichardVandiamondsworth

The prude that wrote this trash has confused illegal human trafficking with legal sex work.  The German authorities are now freed up to attack the slavers instead of arresting consenting adults.

IloveGermany
IloveGermany

Having sex with fat sloths is not consenting it is a way or survival to make ends meet. Just ask your Romanian mother. How do you think you got that big mac yesterday?

hallux
hallux

@RichardVandiamondsworth @IloveGermany RV, dude, you gotta give it up, you walked right T.F. into that.  Trying to shrug off an awesome 'yo mama' with a sarcastic 'oh, you so CRAZY' has simply failed.

Be a good sport and acknowledge when someone scored a good hit.  Pouting is so undignified.  IloveGermany's comment was the funniest thing I've read in a while, and on the this site, (Time) that's saying something!


DakBroadbent
DakBroadbent

Heck yeah! This why prostitution should be legal everywhere. Same as drugs like meth, cocaine, and weed and I mean this seriously.   When you legalize things like prostitution the price drops like a stone and how much prison space would this free up? 

IloveGermany
IloveGermany

Lets put the murderers and rapists in the streets too. It will be fun like the hunger games haha! Hell yea bro high five

davidhoffman
davidhoffman

@hallux @IloveGermany , great analysis. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I wish my fellow citizens in the USA would understand what you have written and act to eliminate the criminal penalties for marijuana usage and cultivation.  

leon1376
leon1376

@DakBroadbent Legalize meth? For whom? Kids? Cops? Airline pilots? Your boss? Your wife, or maybe in your case, your boyfriend? Maybe you'd like that because you think you're paying too much for your hits...dunno. 

DavidLAllison
DavidLAllison

@davidhoffman @hallux @IloveGermany legalize pot like Uruguay is about to do. Latin America has become weary of the DEA lead and State Department promoted "War on Drugs".  The end of prohibition is coming if we keep pushing in the US and in Central and South America.

hallux
hallux

@IloveGermanyFalse dichotomy, bro.  Crimes that have no specific victim are NOT the same as ones where there is an actual, specific person who has been raped or murdered.  If you can't understand that, ask yourself whether you'd be more injured if someone in your state snorted a line of coke, banged a hooker, then fell asleep, or stabbed you 37 times in the face.

If someone, just as a hypothetical example, stabbed you 37 times in the face, you'd probably, before you lost consciousness, find yourself perhaps briefly visited by the thought... "hey, now that I think about it, I really do kind of wish that instead of stabbing me 37 times in the face, that that knife-wielding jerk had just snorted a line of coke and then banged a hooker."  He'd be happy, she'd get paid, (even if not much,) and you would have been able to avoid being stabbed those hypothetical 37 times.

But if you think legalizing drugs (that people are going to take anyway, let's not forget the whole point of addiction is that they CAN'T HELP IT,) is the very same, indistinguishable thing as letting prison doors swing wide letting EVERYONE out, you are not as smart as I gave you credit for with that awesome, funny Big Mac slam earlier.

BTW, a lot of the crime connected with drugs like coke, etc., is CAUSED by the fact that it's illegal.  The War on Drugs (as they call it in the US) has failed for the same exact reason Prohibition failed, and why all efforts to stamp out prostitution fail everywhere.  They attack the WRONG SIDE OF THE PROBLEM!  The fools didn't learn anything from the years of staggering violence during that era, and eventually backtracked in large measure because so many of the people who made the rule in the first place where themselves alcoholics, and the US made a lot of money taxing booze.

If you're going to outlaw something because it is harmful and has little to no redeeming value, that is technically a poison that is responsible for staggering numbers of injuries and deaths each year, and you have no problem in what is supposed to be a nation of laws whose authority comes from the consent of the governed, legislating what people may and may not put into their own bodies, why not ban tobacco and alcohol?

They don't and WON'T because too many people in power abuse those and the country makes way too much money off the consequences of the laws being the way they are, including, let's not forget, the fact that slavery is alive and well, in the US, in the form of slave-labor, or "prison" labor, as it's often called.

But I digress.  Your point was that a little recreational drug use is on par with rape and murder.  That's called hyperbole, man.  It's also completely dead wrong.  A lot of the crime surrounding drugs has to do with the fact that many are illegal, and highly addictive.  But also, if you are already breaking the law anyway, and can't stop, why NOT break other laws?  If you're caught, you're screwed anyway, and the law is trying to interfere with you being able to function, (as doubtless the addict thinks,) so naturally many will adopt the attitude, "SCREW the law!"

Contrast that with what it would be like if coke, for instance, was totally legal.  Why would someone buy something smuggled into the country at great expense, when you could just buy it from someone who grew it right down the street, or on a farm, where you don't have to wonder what pesticides, heavy metals, etc. could contaminate it?  How many bags of marshmallows, for instance, are smuggled into the country from Columbia every year?  I don't mean metaphorical marshmallows, but ACTUAL ones?  Somewhere around NONE?  Why is that?  Could it be that it's cheaper to get them at the grocery store?

Do you think people would commit the crimes they do to get the money they need for cocaine if it were on aisle 7 next to the Aspercream, and cost about the same?  How many people are robbed by junkies jonesing for marshmallow Peeps?  Again, NONE.  If they were as addictive as coke, but as readily available as Peeps, and legal, would that change anything?  Of course not.  (I should point out that I've never done cocaine, nor has anyone I know or am related to, that I know of, I just use it as an example.)

How much violence is associated with maple syrup, for another example?  Very little.  Why?  If it were as addictive as coke, but had only the health consequences of consuming maple syrup, and some nitwit decided to outlaw it, the same results would be seen.  Can you imagine your nephew, or brother, doing a dime for 2.5 oz., of pure, premium, grade A amber maple syrup?

How stupid would you feel?  You'd probably be tempted to rally on the capital steps carrying a sign advocating legalization/decriminalization of maple syrup.  Then someone would shout at you the following statement, and you'd realize just exactly how foolish it sounds:

" Lets put the murderers and rapists in the streets too. It will be fun like the hunger games haha! Hell yea bro high five"

 Get it?  It's YOUR comment.  Do you get how absurd an idea it is, now?

DanielBerman
DanielBerman

OK, legalization itself is not going to improve worker conditions. It simply allows worker protection laws to apply, where they could not if it was a black market. It's still up to Germany to protect their labor. 

IloveGermany
IloveGermany

Women are labor? Right on high five high five. I'll remind your cheating wife next time she is working the corners

machinator99
machinator99

@IloveGermany dropped once too many times on your head as a child?


America should be copying Germany. Germans know how to run an economy. Americans...well..

Touko
Touko

More or less, this is happening to all workers, predatory capitalist globalization is either killing your jobs or forcing everybody to work for less everywhere.  Globalization is a weapon of class warfare.

DanielBerman
DanielBerman

@Touko You're not wrong, but capitalism itself is not evil or predatory, only unregulated capitalism where there are no incentives to treat your workers fairly, and you have to compete with unscrupulous companies. 

IloveGermany
IloveGermany

So you're saying I should prevent my asian workers from committing suicide due to my working conditions? But why? I am evening out the overpopulation and making money at the same time.

DavidLAllison
DavidLAllison

@DanielBerman @Touko I wish it were true but the capitalists only consider it true capitalism when it is unregulated, uncontrolled and unrestricted free market economics. The Chicago School of economics and their mentors in Europe are unlimited in their greed and support for the 1 or 2% of the wealthiest individuals and largest international corporations.