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Conditions for street walkers 'hardly improved'

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Conditions for street walkers 'hardly improved'
Sex worker. Photo: APA/Helmut Fohringer
16:00 CEST+02:00
Conditions for prostitutes working on Vienna’s streets have shown little improvement, despite the introduction of the Prostitution Act in November 2011.

The act meant that prostitutes were only allowed to work in certain areas and streets within the city. It was designed to move prostitution into regulated brothels, and away from residential areas.

"The shift to commercial and industrial areas has not been very reassuring," said Helga Amesberger from the Institute for Conflict Research.

But the LEFÖ organisation, which counsels migrant women, believes that the number of women working on the streets has been “rapidly reduced”. The majority of sex workers are migrants, mainly from the former Eastern Bloc countries. 

Currently prostitutes are allowed to work on the Brunner Strasse in Liesing, and in the Einzingergasse and Autokaderstrasse in Floridsdorf. These areas are patrolled by police. 

In both locations there are never more than around 30 sex workers. "Two or three years ago there would have been around 200 or 300 prostitutes," Wolfgang Langer, who reports on prostitution for the Vienna police, said.

Amesberger said that one shouldn't assume that street workers aren't working in "unprotected" areas of the city - and are staying under the radar. 

Conditions in brothels, however, have improved. The stricter requirements of the Prostitution Act has meant that sex workers are provided with more sanitary conditions.

But Amesberger said that prostitutes are continuing to work on the streets because they can make more money that way. 

If they work in a brothel they end up paying rent and monthly costs of at least €1,000, as well as 40 or 50 percent of the money they make to the brothel owner. Street workers on the other hand have no fixed costs, apart from condoms and occasional taxi fares.

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