Added: Kirk Nitz - Date: 23.10.2021 16:13 - Views: 45095 - Clicks: 1949
The sex market here was produced by the economic differential between the Czech Republic and its west European neighbors; it has developed mainly on the borders with Germany and Austria and is aimed primarily at a German-speaking clientele. A report published by the German NGO KARO just before the Czech Republic officially ed the European Union and indicating the presence of a fully developed child prostitution market aimed at German customers in the city of Cheb Schauer,on the border with Germany did, however, trigger sharp debate around the issue of sex tourism in Czech border areas.
Despite regular publication of alarmist articles in the Czech, German and Austrian press presenting the tragic fate of prostitutes, particularly migrants, and the omnipresence of prostitution in the lives of border populations, it seems that authorities on both side of the border are trying to ignore the phenomenon, and there are very few studies of the marketing of sexual services on the Czech-German and Czech-Austrian borders.
Nonetheless, the world of border area prostitution in the Czech Republic is inscribed in a particular geographical and social space, which I will try to present here. I first shed light on the geographic and socio-economic context of border prostitution in the Czech Republic, so as to relate prostitution organization to the conditions that make it possible and its territorial manifestations. Given how little research there is on the power relations among actors in the world of prostitution, I then try to present the representations and trajectories of border prostitution actors, namely customers and prostitutes, and the power games that characterize their relationships.
The places of prostitution are thus integral parts of the landscape; in some places they even dominate it, as in certain villages where the main street is lined with erotic clubs. Though certain NGOs active in the regions today note a slight increase in the presence of Czech men in the nightclubs, Czechs still for only a tiny proportion of prostitution service consumers in the border zones; the vast majority are German and Austrian.
The fact that German and Austrian customers go to the Czech Republic for sexual services cannot be explained by German and Austrian law, because while prostitution is generally considered a gray area of Czech legislation, it is permitted and regulated in both Germany and Austria. Prices for prostitution services in the clubs situated in the Czech Republic are generally one-half to one-third those practiced in the neighboring countries, and this combined with the availability of other goods and services gas, cigarettes, restaurants, etc.
In the border areas, there is greater marketing of erotic services deed to precede or follow the sexual act itself, such as suggestive shows or dances; the quality of this material seems to constitute an important marketing argument for the customers I questioned. However, the territorial manifestations of the cyclical character of the prostitution activity differ from those observed in other contexts, such as the urban landscape of Rio de Janeiro Botelho de Mattos and Angelo Campos Ribeiro, The Czech border areas also have immense Vietnamese markets specialized in counterfeit goods see below and much appreciated by the German and Austrian border populations.
More classically, casinos have been opened; these are associated almost systematically with prostitution operations; many customers start their evening at the casino and then move on to a nightclub. The geographic position of the border area prostitution operations, i. First, if I had studied street prostitution I would not have been able to approach customers as systematically as I did, since customers using the services of prostitutes standing on the side of these transnational highways do not usually get out of their vehicles.
Second, the street prostitution milieu is said to be more difficult to penetrate for being controlled by specific groups, often family groups, often Roma; they keep the prostitutes working for them under strict surveillance. The hypotheses presented in this article thus do not apply to all border area prostitution in the Czech Republic; specific studies of street prostitution and prostitution in the northwestern border areas of the country should be done. The fact that these women are not anonymous may constitute a form of security for them.
On the other hand, because clubs in the Moravian region of Znojmo are relatively isolated, women working there may be dependent on club managers, e. In these clubs several girls in underclothes cluster around the customer when he enters, and it seems as though the deers have tried to create an atmosphere conducive to the consumption of sexual services.
But there are also much smaller clubs, employing a smaller of prostitutes —the smallest have only two or three women. Their interiors resemble either a rundown bar or a private house. At some, customers pay the manager at the bar; at others they pay the prostitute directly, who then hands over part of the money to the manager. Customer payment can be divided between manager and prostitute in one of two ways. In both these arrangements, prostitutes hand over approximately half of their earnings. Ukrainian prostitutes may also have to turn over part of their earnings to the procurer who arranged their trip to the Czech Republic and their job at the club.
Ukrainian prostitutes therefore usually only manage to keep around a fourth of what they make. But a long interview with an owner who had come as a customer to one of the clubs I studied, and certain statements collected from prostitutes and customers, together with direct observation of some clubs and information from non-governmental actors furnished me with some information. If we are to believe the police and NGO members, most of the official club-owners are of Czech nationality, namely because of Czech legal restrictions on property acquisition by foreigners, but they work cooperatively with German or Austrian partners.
Though few owners would tolerate the presence of researchers on their parking lots—some even reacted violently and threatened me when I asked for permission to talk to people around their club— most accept regular visits from NGOs accredited to check the health of the women working in the clubs, especially to see if there are STD problems. In any case, women never have free relations with men.
The emphasis is on prostitution customers and their relation with the prostituted woman, and, less systematically, the prostitutes themselves. As indicated above, the club owners and managers were encountered only marginally, either when I went to ask permission to do research in the clubs or when I approached some of them as customers on club parking lots. While it proved fairly easy to gather information from local residents—this generally took the form of informal conversations with employees of the hotels, bars and restaurants in the region and persons living in the immediate vicinity of prostitution operations— collecting information from customers is said to be difficult, which explains why there are as yet very few studies bearing specifically on consumers of sexual services.
These first interviews thus enabled me to observe the importance of establishing a distinction between two worlds : the daytime world of potentially family expeditions to the Vietnamese bazaars on the other side of the border and trips to the gas station and cigarette distributorsand the nighttime world, potentially given over to sex tourism. The reactions I collected were almost entirely indignant, and could even amount to a categorical refusal to say anything on the matter. It was on the basis of this first experience that I became aware of the necessity to banish from my discourse any phrasing that could suggest that my interlocutors were there to consume sexual services, leaving it up to them to reveal their role as active prostitution customers if they wished.
I will return further on to the importance of this heroic dimension in the discourse of prostitution customers, but for the time being let me just mention that using it in order to establish contact with the customers seems to have allowed me to distinguish myself immediately in the eyes of the customers from any totalizing, moralistic discourse. The circumstances in which the interviews were conducted—at night in the parking lots of places of prostitution; i. However, it is important to keep in mind that because I was only able to interview customers willing to talk, I probably did not meet customers considered dangerous by the prostitutes themselves or, if I did meet some, they were careful to keep quiet about behaviors that they know are damaging to the physical or psychological integrity of the prostituted person.
The hypotheses presented here therefore do not claim in any way to be representative, as this is illusory for any study of prostitution customers, but result instead from information collected in the course of ethnographic observation of the prostitutional territories and the actors studied.
Certain conversations took place in clubs I was permitted to enter, clubs where the activity was slow enough to enable me to speak to both the occasional customers and the prostitutes. Interviews conducted outside the clubs were extremely open and informal; they were with a group of prostitutes whose curiosity had been awakened by my presence in the village. To satisfy that curiosity, I was careful to allow the women interviewed to ask me as many questions as they liked. This negative, reed view of their own condition was quickly followed by verbal and behavioral attempts at valorizing some aspects of their activity or the skills it required.
Indeed, this aspect of their activity, often deliberately avoided by NGOs in contact with prostitutes, seems to me to make it possible to call into question certain stereotyped representations of the power relations obtaining in the world of prostitution. The interviews I had with female representatives of NGOs seeking to help prostitutes reveal that the actors directly implicated in this prostitution field are not immune to certain vague fears and the general feeling that people have that it is preferable to keep their distance and protect themselves from men who consume sexual services Howe, Other typologies are based on sexual consumption habits rather than customer motivations and distinguish occasional customers from regular ones, and, in this second category, customers who have relations with other women from customers who live alone Mossuz-Lavau, Still, the authority that these established typologies seem to enjoy—they structure most studies of prostitution customers— may lead to choosing, out of all the information that customers communicate, only information that corroborates the considered legitimate, and this reduces the field of possibility in analysis of the motivations and practices of prostitutional sexuality.
I do not seek to confirm a pre-established typology, but only to describe certain discursive means of rationalizing a type of sexuality that is generally considered deviant, without claiming to be exhaustive. On the one hand, discourse analysis runs the risk of neglecting certain power techniques operative in the mechanisms of prostitution use, because it focuses attention on the speaker; on the other, the material collected in interviews with customers, whatever the sample size, cannot be considered representative because it is impossible to interview some customers.
Up against the moralizing judgments generally made of their sexual habits, Austrian and German prostitution customers in border area nightclubs develop a variety of discursive strategies, ranging from denial to heroicizing their sexual practices to trying to clear themselves. But in most cases, the men questioned were willing to express their impressions of the prostitution world, after clearly indicating to the researcher that they were not of that world.
Such an evocation situates sexual behavior generally considered selfish within an altruistic approach, aiming thereby to link it to traditional sexuality standards that presuppose seeking mutual pleasure.
In addition to physical pleasure, certain customers are looking for contact or a relationship. Many Germans and Austrians between the ages of 18 and 25 go to border area prostitution clubs; those clubs therefore continue to function as places for initiating young men into sexuality. In this case, the roles of seduction and glamour are not as important as for older customers. These narratives, whose truth value is of little importance for this study, recall certain classical forms of heroic narration of chevalric inspiration which have lastingly influenced social representations of gender roles, namely the perception of certain behavior as virile.
This stereotypical vision is strengthened and fueled by estimates of the increasing proportion of eastern European prostitutes on west European sex markets Bruinsma and Meershoek, and by media enthusiasm for portraits of eastern European women prostituting themselves in the west. It therefore seems that sexual autonomy and the autonomy to migrate constitute the transgression Pheterson,in the universal moral sense we conceive it; the transgression that le people to think of prostitutes exclusively in terms of social mechanisms of control, stigmatization and submission to customers, procurers, police officers, etc.
This is why it is important here, while never denying the reality of the physical and psychic threats that may weigh on women practicing prostitution, to render readable some of the power relations that run through prostitutional space.
These seem comparable to observations collected by Brochier in Rio de Janeiro clubs, and they indicate that prostitutes may have some maneuvering room in the exchange and negotiation of sexual services. First, contrary to the stereotype of the trafficking victim often applied to migrant prostitutes, it seems that most foreign women prostituting themselves on the Czech border think of selling sexual services to western European customers reputed to be wealthy as an economic strategy that will enable them to cope with a financial need.
Many of the foreign women practicing in the border area clubs, most from the former socialist bloc, engage in prostitution to temporarily resolve a difficult economic situation, and they use various means of getting into prostitution. While most who arrive in the Czech Republic with the intention of working in the sex industry come with a three-month tourist visa, women who have come to practice in the sex business also use the asylum procedure and marriage to a Czech national in some cases a German or Austrian to legalize their stay.
They generally contact the clubs through an intermediary who is in charge of obtaining the tourist visa and organizing their trip. These intermediaries—they are in fact procurers who sometimes also take on the role of boyfriend— have a network of club owner contacts in the Czech Republic to whom the women are then offered.
Contact with the club owner may also be established by the prostitute herself if she is already working in a place and is trying to get a friend or acquaintance hired too. Most women with a tourist visa go back to their native country after three months of activity to renew their visa, then return to the Czech Republic or move further west.
The working conditions that outside observers filled with protective feelings are overquick to qualify as slavery may thus be considered in an entirely different light by the prostitutes themselves, for whom entering into prostitution seems to mean accepting the rules that govern the operation of that activity. Certain women identified as victims of trafficking in humans in the Czech Republic choose in spite of all to continue their occupational activity, knowing that on the Czech border they can earn enough money in a few months to live or study several years in Ukraine, for example.
Furthermore, establishing a distance between herself and the customer allows the prostitute to keep control of the situation in all circumstances.
While the local population is generally quick to link the presence of a large Vietnamese community with the existence of many border area places of prostitution see belowVietnamese customers are unanimously rejected by the prostitutes I questioned, who say they are physically unattractive and poor sexual performers. Moreover, the interviews I conducted with prostitutes and my observations inside certain clubs go against the idea that these women have to accept all customers. Prostitutes usually say themselves that they are under no such obligation except that they have to pay room rent at the end of the monthand though none of the customers I interviewed admitted having been turned away by a prostitute, the situations I observed in the clubs attest to this possibility.
Some small clubs can give the outside observer and customer alike the feeling that they are disturbing the quiet of a family living room—women lying on the sofa in front of the television— and the rare customers who come on a weekday evening are often deemed of lesser interest than the latest video clips and therefore abandoned at the bar until they decide themselves to leave. Independently of a certain reed nostalgia in response to the fact that they have slipped into a stigmatized community Goffman,the confrontation with women who do not come from the prostitutional community in this case, the researcher thus seems to stir in prostitutes a consciousness of their ability to incarnate a form of unconstrained relation to their body and sexuality that they can use to make their non-prostitute female interlocutors appear rigid and hampered by various sexual taboos.
However, a few moments later, she took off her clothes and pursued the interview in underwear in the middle of the public space, a move that may be interpreted as a means of letting her interlocutor know that she had access to different forms of freedom than the freedom assumed to be enjoyed by occupying a non-stigmatized social position.
Still, this theatrical way of using the body, aimed at making it appear not only the catalyst of male pleasure but also an incarnation of sexuality free of taboos, seems to me susceptible of being analyzed, together with the attempts at distancing mentioned above, as a form of resistance used by prostitutes to escape the pitying, miserabilist view people are likely to have of them. The prostitutes I interviewed on the Czech-German border speak of customers with sado-masochistic tendencies and STDs as the main dangers of the prostitution activity, requiring permanent vigilance and a certain ability to decipher sexual service consumer behavioral patterns Gil, Though most of the customers I met in the framework of this study deny this, there would seem to be many who say they will pay more for unprotected sex and who try to overcome the vigilance of prostitutes when they demand that they use a condom.
Having observed that older customers were particularly likely to exhibit sadomasochistic tendencies in their sexual relations, certain prostitutes said they protected themselves by systematically refusing to see customers over This claim, together with my observation of prostitution practices inside the clubs, attests to the possible existence of maneuvering room for prostitutes that allows them to turn away certain customers. Moreover, solidarity among prostitutes, generally described as declining in traditional places of prostitution Mathieu,seems to exist at certain moments and in certain specific forms in the new prostitution regions comprised of the border spaces of the Czech Republic : prostitutes working in clubs on the Czech-German border, for example, explain that they systematically note the licence plate s of customers whom women leave with as escorts in order to notify the police if a colleague fails to return.
Nonetheless, it seems to me that attempts to get beyond the stereotypical figures of customer and prostitute and the preconceptions that go along with them lead us to recognize the possibility that certain women decide to work in the sex industry as an alternative survival circuit while keeping in mind that the aspects of prostitution practice observed here cannot claim to be the totality of prostitutional realityand that the relation between prostitute and customer is not merely one of domination but may take the form of an exchange.
In fact, a conception of the Other as morally and culturally different seems to crystallize around the border area sex market. Crossing the national border comes to seem a move invested with a power of sexual emancipation, or at least the promise of such Donnan and Wilson,p.
The Vietnamese, who first came to Czechoslovakia and the GDR in the s on job contracts made between those countries and the socialist republic of Vietnam, began settling in the border areas of the Czech Republic in the early s after the political changes in the former socialist states had invalidated the agreements that had sent them to work in Czechoslovakian and East German factories. Though there is no pre-established tie between the sex markets and the activities of the Vietnamese community, that community is often immediately mentioned by Czech residents and German-speaking prostitution customers and tourists questioned about border area prostitution.
The high concentration of businesses selling sexual services in the border regions of the Czech Republic is generally perceived by the local populations as resulting from the encounter between types of foreign immorality on the border. Of course, as I have shown, the massive installation of prostitution businesses is accused of tarnishing the image of the border regions, and the prostitutes are actively party to this, but the individual relations between inhabitants and women working in the sex business actually seem, despite all, at least somewhat free of certain forms of stigmatization.
People hail these women in the street, ask after their health, and a married, retired watercolorist living in a house surrounded on both sides by prostitution clubs says he sometimes takes prostitutes as models for his portraits. Moreover, in the last few years the of Czech men in these establishments has increased. Repressed under the communist regime, prostitution and recognition of it as a social phenomenon may well have appeared as s of sexual liberation in the s.
The prostitutes thus seem in reality to enjoy tolerance, possibly motivated by certain economic considerations on the place of women on the job market, particularly migrant women. In this understanding, the border, because crossable, is both an institution that makes possible border area prostitutional sexuality and an instrument for reaffirming a dividing line between the acceptable and the unacceptable, by means of a process of distributing the different moral functions ibid.
The act of moving the acceptable to the edges of the national territory would then also be what distinguishes the confined space of border prostitution from prostitutional sexuality in the rest of the Czech territory. They represent an excellent field for studying the social and spatial configurations associated with the sale of sexual services. Analysis of the prostitution trajectories of women and customers in these border-area nightclubs brings to light the complex, multiform power relations that develop in them; it also reveals the great fantasy-generating potential of the social fact of prostitution.
Prostitution on the borders of the Czech Republic seems interpretable as a confined space where fantasies and affirmations of identity become crystallized. Border-opening and prostitution 4 Border area prostitution appeared soon after the borders of Czechoslovakia which split in into the Czech Republic and Slovakia were opened, and it quite clearly seems to have arisen from the sharp economic differential between the German and Austrian border regions and the corresponding Czech regions.
The territories of border area prostitution 7 The places studied here are not given over exclusively to prostitution; on the contrary, they exhibit cyclical types of territorialization. The ways prostitutes and customers meet up and the actors involved in that encounter 11 The four prostitutes working in a small club on the Czech-German border indicated to me that they had an average of customers per weekend while for the rest of the week they had around 60, thus confirming the broad gap I observed in the field between the relative calm of weekdays and the hyperactivity of the weekend.
Interviewing prostitution actors : customers and prostitutes 16 The lines of thinking followed in this article arose from interviews with different actors in prostitution operations and the world of prostitution, namely German-speaking prostitution customers in the Czech border areas and prostitutes working in the clubs, representatives of the NGOs doing social work with the prostitutes in the border areas, police officers, and inhabitants of villages considered centers of prostitution.
Prostitutional trajectories 24 The information collected from the various actors reveals a game of influence and power that is more complex than what is generally suggested by studies of prostitution. Customers : losers or perverts? Prostitutes : victims or accomplices? Border, deviance and stigmatization 42 Due to the overrepresentation of foreign prostitutes and German-speaking customers in the border area prostitution world, that world is strongly perceived by local actors as a spot where foreign interests converge on the Czech Republic.
Though not formally permitted, prostitution is not prohibited in the Czech Republic. A bill aimed at regulating prostitution was drafted by the former Czech interior minister Frantisek Bublan in August It forbids prostitution of minors under 18 and makes it compulsory for register ed prostitutes to under go r egula r medical examinations and pay taxes. It also increases local jurisdiction; towns can decide what zones prostitution can be practiced in and pr ohibit it systematically in the vicinity of schools and youth organizations. Towns in the border regions of the Czech Republic were quite active in drafting the bill, but the majority of Christian-Democrats and Conservatives are strongly opposed to it.
Jana, an NGO working to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases STDs a mong pr ostitutes on the Czec h- Bavar ian border, estimates that 2, German men cross the western Czech Republic border daily to consume sexual services in the prostitution clubs this does not include street prostitution.
Having a good time in one of these clubs may amount to nothing m ore tha n w atching television. Fortunately, there are also nightclubs deserving of the name and that make the city they are located in more attractive. A ccording to J ana estim ates, near ly two-thirds of prostitutes working on the Czech-Bavarian border are from the former socialist states.
See the international instruments rec ently adopted to combat traff icking in wom en, namely the Pr otocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, passed by the United Na tions Gener al Asse mbly on November 15, and ed in December in Palermo; also the July European Union Counc il Frame work D ecis ion on combating trafficking in human beings. For an example, see declarations by Detlef Uben, head of the human trafficking department of the Hamburg criminal bureau. This observation is also made by NGOs working with prostitutes, who sometimes have difficulty approaching street prostitutes.
Interview with representatives of a health protection organization working with prostitutes on the Czech-Bavarian border. Information gathered from prostitutes working on the Czech-German border. Excerpts f rom an interview w ith a Ger man c lub-ow ner on the Czech-Ger man border. Police officers are sometimes accused of having close ties w ith pros titution club owners.Brothels in czech republic
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Prostitution in the Czech Republic