In Stuttgart, Germany, 1700 men lined up1 unashamedly waiting from morning until night on opening day to get into the new “Pussy Club,” a flat-rate brothel. The brothel management advertised by announcing that customers could have “sex with all women as long as you want, as often as you want and the way you want. Sex. Anal sex. Oral sex without a condom. Three-ways. Group sex. Gang bangs.”
All of it legal, of course, because in Germany prostitution has the government stamp of approval.
For 70 euros (about $78 dollars) a man can stay for 24 hours in the club and have sex with as many women as he wants in this type of “all you can eat body buffet.”By the end of the opening day many of the women had collapsed from exhaustion, pain, injuries, and infections, including painful rashes and fungal infections that had spread from their genitals down their legs.
Across the country, in the town of Cologne, sits a colossal 12 story, 27,000 square foot “mega brothel” called Pascha—the biggest brothel in Europe. Eerily, in a possible slight to orthodoxy, the Latin word “pascha” is the name by which Orthodox Christians know the yearly celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. This gigantic flesh market houses over 120 girls in 126 rooms and on any given day has over 1000 male customers.
Then in another part of Germany there is club “Paradise,” where 150 women service an average of twenty men each per night. Paradise was recently the subject of a documentary called “Mega Brothel” directed by Edward Watts, a man who has investigated on film the realities of life in places like impoverished Gaza and the journeys of Somali refugees as they make their way to Europe.
Watts tellingly admitted about the creation of “Mega Brothel,” “I have been to a lot of wild places around the world but I have been nowhere like that.”
In the film Josie, one of the women prostituted in the brothel, talks about her personal journey. Like many other women, childhood trauma led her into the sex trade. “It was when I was 10 or 11,” she explains. “I could say he was the Devil in person. He was beating me and he did some sexual abuse. I was sexually abused when I was 10 or 11 years old,” she reflects. “After that, a part of you is dying and it’s not a big deal to work as a prostitute.”
Josie says she is currently studying politics in her free time and hopes to go on to become a criminologist. “Criminology has a personal meaning to me because in the red light district you see a lot of crime and violence,” she says.
An essential tool in Josie’s make-up bag is a tube of xylocaine, a local anesthetic gel that numbs the physical pain resulting from sleeping with up to 20 men a day.
As she goes on to reflect on her life and what she has experienced she becomes visibly upset. “I have slept with… around 15,000 [customers],” she reveals. “When I say that, it makes me feel so sad.” On the contrary, one sex buyer named Wolfgang says he stopped calculating his encounters at the club after he passed 500. Asked how the experience affects the women, he is stumped as he admits frankly, “I never thought about it.”
A Booming “Industry”
Josie’s story is not an isolated one. A decade ago it was reported that there were over 400,000 women in Germany’s prostitution industry, working in over 3500 brothels2, 600 of which are in the capital of Berlin alone. Today experts estimate that the number of women being prostituted in Germany has increased, some say even as much as thirty percent.
Over one million men are buying sex every day in Germany and during the last 15 years, since brothels were legalized in the country, profits have soared to $17 billion a year—three or four times its size before the law changed in 2002.
The sex industry’s profits are not only driven by local demand but also by the many tour operators specializing in sex tourism packages. Operating mainly out of Asia, Russia, and North America, they offer five to ten-day packages that include flights, hotels, and limousine service, and promise their clients a complete tour of all the most famous red light districts.
“People think Amsterdam is the prostitution capital of Europe but Germany has more prostitutes [sic] per capita than any other country in the continent, more even than Thailand,” said investigative journalist Nisha Lilia Diu.
“Germany is Europe’s biggest brothel, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, you just have to do the math to realise that’s the case,” commented the owner of one of the most highly rated German brothels. “We have about 60,000 people coming [to this club] every year, from Asia, America, and even from the Arab world…”
In Germany’s legal sex industry, pimps and traffickers can easily hide under the deceptive label of “sex entrepreneurs” and are running multi-million dollar enterprises through online virgin auctions, drive-in sex stalls, outdoor “sex boxes” called “Verrichtungsbox” (“getting things done” boxes)—where men line up during lunch breaks—mega brothels, and all you can eat flat-rate sex buffets. Even bestiality brothels have popped up in a country where anything goes when it comes to sex.
Filming prostitution and selling it as porn is also another way these exploiters make money off of women’s bodies. For example a well known company called Uschi Haller Fun & Films hosts and films gang bang parties with different themes, which they then sell to the public as porn. Each participant pays 35 Euros, which pays for sex with prostituted women, and provides drinks and food. Condom-use is explicitly banned and face masks are provided in order to protect the identity of the johns.
Some disturbing examples of Uschi Haller DVD porn titles include: “Teenie Tina,” “Six Months Pregnant,” “The Big Grub,” “Pee Party,” or “Sloshing Party” (where women are supplied with alcohol so they’ll be more compliant). They also have “feeding frenzies” where women are force fed spaghetti in between oral sex until they vomit.
The Government as the Mega Pimp
The full legalization of the sex industry has become a disastrous policy that is destroying real women’s lives. Sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, abuse, violence and organized crime runs rampant to say the least.
Several years ago, after reports of human trafficking in one of Germany’s mega brothel chains, 700 police raided several locations rescuing girls and arresting traffickers. This is one of hundreds of cases where forced exploitation has been discovered just under the surface of a facade of legitimacy.
In Germany a significant cut of all prostituted women’s meager “profits” is taken in the form of a prostitution tax, and thus the government itself has become the biggest pimp of all. The German government is earning an enormous amount of money off of the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable women.
The so-called “benefits” that the government promised to offer women in prostitution when full legalization took place are all but nonexistent.
Of the over 400,000 women who are working in Germany’s sex industry, only 44 of them have registered to receive them. That is because whether illegal or legal, prostitution can never lose its stigma, and women don’t want to be known as working in the industry. Furthermore, most of the women working in Germany are not German citizens but are transient women from impoverished countries whose poverty is exploited by pimps, traffickers, buyers, and the government itself.
The Normalization of the Sex Industry
In Germany men and women are socialized from a very young age to accept and participate in the prostitution industry. One German activist noted that an organization called Pro Familia, a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), advises German schools regarding their sex education curriculum.
Among the material they recommended for teenagers is a book called, “Sexualpädagogik der Vielfalt“ (which loosely translates to “Sexual Diversity”). This text includes suggestions and material for projects in which students are asked to name sex positions and to “modernize a brothel.” In small groups they are told to discuss what “services” a brothel should offer.
Sex education in some German schools is reported to even include “educational” exercises where 14-year-olds are instructed to buy dildos, impotency drugs, handcuffs, as well as leather costumes in a virtual auction. Those who protested this kind of content being introduced into curriculum were accused of being “reactionary,” “conservative,” and “prudish.”
The normalization of prostitution in Germany, even among young children, has lead to a situation where many male youth celebrate their high school graduations together in brothels. In Germany it is said to be “no big deal” that boys as young as 16 go to a local apartment brothel to buy sex.
If you are interested in connecting with an organization doing anti-trafficking work in Germany you can contact Ben and Nadine Walker in Hamburg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to take action to abolish the global commercial sex industry, join Exodus Cry’s new activist Facebook group called The Wilberforce Initiative.