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When Germany legalised prostitution in 2002 it triggered an apparently unstoppable growth in the country’s sex industry.It’s now worth 15 billion euros a year and embraces everything from 12-storey mega-brothels to outdoor sex boxes.It’s just a more attractive environment.” She points out that Denmark, which decriminalised prostitution in 1999 – the same year Sweden made the purchase of sex illegal - has four times the number of trafficking victims than its neighbour despite having around half the population.It’s one reason the Netherlands has gone into reverse with legalisation.Bargain-hunters might try the “flat rate” brothels, where an entry fee of between 50-100 euros buys you unlimited sex with as many women as you want, or cruise the caravans at motorway truck stops, or the drive-through “sex boxes” in the street-walking zones.(They look like stables and are known as “verrichtungsboxen” - “getting things done boxes”.) The Netherlands legalised prostitution two years before Germany, just after Sweden had gone the other way and made the purchase of sex a criminal offence.
Within a couple of hours we’d seen enough to get the joke.
Those figures were released a decade ago, soon after Germany made buying sex, selling sex, pimping and brothel-keeping legal in 2002.
Two years later, prostitution in Germany was thought to be worth 6 billion euros – roughly the same as Porsche or Adidas that year. Prostitution was legalised “for the government to make a lot of money,” Beretin says, strolling past a woman in a lime green lycra shrug (and nothing else) while another woman, nude except for black hold-up stockings, leans against the bar.
Exploiting prostitutes was still criminal but everything else was now above board.
Two female politicians and a Berlin madam were pictured clinking their champagne glasses in celebration. “Nobody employs prostitutes in Germany,” says Beretin.