Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prostitution in Vienna

In a previous life I worked as a therapist, primarily focused on sexual abuse issues with offenders and read numerous books and attended many conferences related to sexual deviations as defined by the DSM, the impact of pornography, the lives of sex workers, etc. It was difficult work and I finally realized I did not want to deal with these issues on a daily basis.

However, I still occasionally read articles related to the field and found a recent essay in the Vienna Review of interest. In "Women of the Shadows", Anni Surenian and Philippa Hohenzollern explore the realities of legalized prostitution in Vienna:
Currently, there are 2,374 prostitutes registered at the Polizeikommissariat Innere Stadt,” we learned from Frau Hohenwarter, a spokeswoman for the commission, of which not even 200 are Austrian. “Some of them only want to work for a couple of weeks or months,” she told us, “very often out of an emergency situation.” Accordingly, prostitutes are required to have weekly medical check-ups and have to pay their taxes. However they may not put in a legal claim for their wages should a client decide to not to pay.... Vienna is referred to as the “Hochburg” or hot spot for legal and illegal prostitution. Even though legal official numbers speak of nearly 3,000 registered sex workers, NGO estimates go as high as 8,000 nationwide.
The authors interview a woman from Romania they call "Clara":
This is my shitty job, I’m sorry, she tells us. Clara is neither happy nor proud of where she is in life right now. In fact, she despises her job more than anything else, but it is the only way she can provide for her family. As a waitress, she would make €40 a day. Here she can make twice as much in one hour, justification enough. “Aber besser trinken Alkohol und schlafen, dann ist alles ok,” It’s better to drink alcohol and sleep, then everything is ok.

Clearly not all is well in the world of legalized prostitution.

No comments: