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SEX

Street prostitutes ‘accept sex meters’

A “sex meter” scheme, taxing prostitutes €6 a night to work the streets of Bonn has raised more than €35,000 for public coffers in its first year, authorities said this week.

Street prostitutes 'accept sex meters'
Photo: DPA

Prostitutes working the streets of Germany’s former capital have to buy themselves a ticket from the converted parking meters each night, or face a fine.

“The sex tax has been accepted by the prostitutes,” said city spokeswoman Elke Palm. The idea, introduced last August, was an extension of a tax imposed on brothels in the city at the beginning of 2011, Die Welt newspaper reported.

But Mechthild Eickel, chairwoman of the sexworkers’ association Bufas, said it was unfair that prostitutes rather than their customers should have to pay the tax.

“It is a pleasure for the customers. Why don’t they put the money in?” she asked the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper on Friday.

She said prostitutes already paid enough tax, including income tax.

Parking meters were converted to issue the €6 sex tickets that street prostitutes have to show wardens when requested.

The increased controls include the provision of “performance huts” where prostitutes and their customers can conduct business. This has reduced the number of complaints from people living near the areas where prostitutes work, said Palm.

The wardens have only handed out about 20 “warning fines,” she said, adding that there had been no reported trouble between prostitutes and the officials.

The Local/hc

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TRAM

German passengers hailed for stopping ‘horror’ runaway tram

German passengers were hailed for preventing a disaster at the weekend when they were able to bring a runaway tram to a halt after the driver lost consciousness.

German passengers hailed for stopping 'horror' runaway tram
he Line 66 tram in Bonn. Photo: DPA

Two male passengers broke down the door to the driver's cabin after the tram sped past eight stations without stopping in the western city of Bonn late Saturday night.

They found the driver unresponsive in his seat but managed to halt the tram thanks to instructions given to a female passenger who was on the phone throughout with local transport operator SWB.

“They did exactly the right thing in a dangerous situation and possibly saved lives,” mayor Ashok Sridharan told the General-Anzeiger daily.

“Something like this should not be allowed to happen,” he added.

The 47-year-old driver was taken to hospital but has since been released.

He remains on sick leave but no further details were given about his medical condition.

The General-Anzeiger said passengers on the “horror tram” were terrified even if everyone escaped unharmed.

“We were afraid for our lives, there was nothing we could do,” it quoted 61-year-old Manfred Daas, who was travelling with his wife, as saying.

The SWB transport company faced mounting criticism over the incident on Monday, and prosecutors are investigating whether all the technical fail-safes had worked properly.

The Line 66 tram did not stop even after passengers repeatedly pulled the emergency brake, but the SWB said the brake only alerts the driver who then decides whether or not to stop.

The “dead man's switch” in the driver's cabin, designed to cut the engine if the lever is no longer activated, also did not kick into action because the driver's weight likely kept it pressed down, SWB said.

But the tram would have eventually slowed to halt by itself because some passengers had activated the emergency unlocking system on the doors, Jörn Zauner of the SWB told General-Anzeiger.

It remains unclear how fast the tram was going, with Zauner estimating it was riding at a speed of 40 to 70 kilometres per hour.

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