• Germany's news in English

Brothels feel impact of financial crisis

AFP/The Local · 22 Mar 2009, 09:53

Published: 22 Mar 2009 09:53 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Like many of its counterparts, the brothel has been hit by the credit crunch and has had to come up with its own stimulus package for a trade that was legalised in Germany seven years ago.

The Belle Escort, another brothel in the capital, has not faced problems before, but the current financial crisis has triggered a sharp decline in clientele, said its owner Isabelle.

She rejected the idea of ‘special deal prostitution’ as offered by the Pussy Club but admitted, “We’re in trouble.

“I’d estimate that we have at least 20 percent fewer people coming here,” she said.

Monika Heitmann works for a support network for prostitutes in Bremen and confirms the problems the industry is facing.

“If customers can’t even afford to spend money on housing, food and cars, then how can we expect them to spend money on sex?” she asked.

Heitmann has worked with prostitutes for over 20 years and says that business has been going downhill over that time.

“Thirty years ago prostitutes were really dedicated to their work,” she said, adding that money worries were now more than ever, forcing women into the sex trade.

At the beginning of this year, the owner of Frankfurt’s oldest brothel, the FKK Sudfass, was forced to sell up after 37 years and the building will be converted into a hotel.

Prostitution has been legal in Germany since 2001, and is relatively widespread, especially in big cities like Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, where women tout for business in the show windows of the infamous St Pauli district.

But social stigmatisation persists and Heitmann is concerned that prostitutes’ trials and tribulations are not being taken seriously.

“There are a lot of women who come here and just don’t know how to get on,“ Heitmann said.

“The crisis means that customers want more service for less money. They’re becoming pushy and even blackmailing the ladies.”

An increasing number of men on a tight budget are also picking up prostitutes on street corners rather than in pricey brothels.

Some places have been forced to shut their doors and in January, sex-shop owners and porn producers pushed for state aid, taking their lead from the crisis-hit auto and banking industries.

Erotic trade federation official Uwe Kaltenberg, said that ‘economic aid would be judicious’.

Story continues below…

Heitmann is now afraid that waning turnover could damage the industry’s reputation even more and that back-street prostitution could escalate.

Barbara Kavemann, professor at the Berlin Research Institute for Social Science and Women Studies, said the full impact of the financial crisis could not be determined because there was no concrete data.

“Firstly, prostitutes don’t legally have to be registered, and secondly, who defines who is a prostitute?” she asked.

But Isabelle and other brothel owners do not need empirical data or definitions to confirm the impact of the credit crunch on the sex industry has been hard.

“The only thing we can do now is keep our fingers crossed and hope for better times,” she said, “and obviously I wouldn’t say no to a state-funded cash injection.”

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd