Chinese prostitutes were working in four of six unlicensed brothels which were shut down in January, said Wolfgang Langer, the head of the Vienna Police Prostitution Unit. “We have seen a big increase in the number of brothels disguised as massage parlours,” he added.
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BK) believes many of the illegal brothels operating in Austria may be connected to China.
One of the brothels that police closed down in Vienna was run by a man known as Mr K., from an 80-square-metre apartment which he rented to five Chinese women for €980 a month, per woman. The brothel placed ads in online massage forums, but offered sexual services.
Gerald Tatzgern, head of the Central Office for Combating Human Trafficking, said that the women came from five different Chinese provinces and may well have been trafficked.
He said that police are starting “to connect the dots” and are investigating one Austrian man who is married to a Chinese woman and is believed to act as a middleman, finding locations for brothels and employing “administrative assistants”. These assistants are responsible for finding the women work in the sex industry, and take a commission of up to €1,500.
Tatzgern said the women were not necessarily forced into prostitution but that there were probably economic pressures on them and they may have become trapped in their situation as they are unable to speak German.
He added that police are investigating 80 suspicious massage parlours and are cooperating with Chinese and EU authorities.