Part II: The World’s Oldest Profession
As the economy gets tough many need to change how they do business. This includes those in the world’s oldest profession. Reuters looks at how prostitutes are coping in Germany, where prostitution is legal:
In one of the few countries where prostitution is legal, and unusually transparent, the industry has responded with an economic stimulus package of its own: modern marketing tools, rebates and gimmicks to boost falling demand.
Some brothels have cut prices or added free promotions while others have introduced all-inclusive flat-rate fees. Free shuttle buses, discounts for seniors and taxi drivers, as well as “day passes” are among marketing strategies designed to keep business going.
A little information on the size of this industry:
Germany has about 400,000 professional prostitutes. Official figures do not distinguish between the sexes and the number of male prostitutes is not known, but they account for a small fraction of the total and are treated the same under the law.
In 2002, new legislation allowed prostitutes to advertise and to enter into formal labor contracts. It opened the way for them to obtain health insurance, previously refused if they listed their true profession.
Annual revenues are about 14 billion euros ($18 billion), according to an estimate by the Verdi services union. Taxes on prostitution are an important source of income for some cities.
Prostitution is also legal and regulated in the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Greece, Turkey and in some parts of Australia, and the U.S. state of Nevada.
To remain in business despite customers cutting back on expenses, prostitutes are offering flat rate deals for food, drink, and sex. Others are offering enticements such as loyalty cards and senior citizen discounts.
Berlin’s “Pussy Club” has attracted media attention with its headline-grabbing “flat rate” — a 70-euro admission charge for unlimited food, drink and sex between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m…
“Our offer might sound like it’s too good to be true, but it’s real. You can eat as much as you want, drink as much as you want and have as much sex as you want.”
Stefan, who runs other establishments in Heidelberg and Wuppertal besides the Berlin club, said the flat rate had helped keep the 30 women working in each location fully employed.
Other novel ideas used by brothels and prostitutes include loyalty cards, group sex parties and rebates for golf players. Hamburg’s “GeizHaus” is especially proud of its discount 38.50 euro price. The city has Germany’s most famous red-light district, the Reeperbahn, in the notorious St. Pauli district.