Category Archives: Brothels

Europe’s Biggest Brothel: It Will Cost €4.5m, Will Boast 90 Prostitutes

Europe’s biggest brothel: it will cost €4.5m and will boast 90 prostitutes

TONY PATERSON 

The German town of Saarbrücken was once renowned for its fine Moselle wines, first-class cuisine and an easy going un-Teutonic way  of life.

Yet the border city’s fame as a laid-back gourmet paradise is now fast being overtaken by a new and unsavoury reputation as Europe’s prostitution capital.

The reasons are self-explanatory: the city has 170,000 residents and a population of over 1,000 call girls. The numbers grew after 2007 when Bulgaria and Romania gained EU membership. Since then there has been a steady influx of women plying the sex trade, often to escape poverty at home.

Early next year their numbers will swell even further with the opening of a new €4.5m (£3.8m) 6,000sq-metre “mega brothel” in Saarbrücken’s Burbach district. It will employ 90 full-time prostitutes and be run by a permanent staff of 45. The establishment has been described as one of the largest brothels in Europe.

Local authorities bemoan the fact that they have virtually no power to halt the expansion of the city’s already booming sex industry: “In Saarbrücken it is easier to open a brothel than a chip shop,” Charlotte Britz, the city’s Social Democratic Party mayor, said. “Prostitution has assumed unbearable proportions here.”

It is not difficult to understand the Mayor’s concerns. From her office, Ms Britz has a grandstand view of the two brothels that stand directly opposite Saarbrücken’s town hall. “The current situation is bad for the city’s image,”  she said.

Two factors have combined to create Saarbrücken’s seemingly unstoppable sex trade boom.

The first is what was once hailed as an “enlightened” German government decision to liberalise what were considered to be outdated and repressive laws governing prostitution and the sex trade. Back in 2001, under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Germany’s governing Social Democrat-Green coalition tried to make prostitution a job like any other by passing laws that  gave call girls full rights to health insurance, pensions and other benefits provided they paid the requisite taxes.

While exploiting prostitutes remained criminal, employing them or providing sex workers with a place to ply their trade was declared legal. The change in the law was an attempt to encourage responsible, law-abiding brothel owners, who, it was assumed, would eventually drive pimps from the market and end the exploitation of sex workers.

The second factor that has contributed to the boom in the sex trade is the city’s proximity to France, where the legality of prostitution is a grey area. In France, prostitution is illegal in principle, but it is not illegal to be a prostitute. It is illegal to run a brothel or to be a pimp or to solicit even “passively” in public, but it is not illegal to sell your body – or “buy” someone else’s. And this week, France passed a controversial bill meaning anyone caught paying for sex will be fined a €1,500 for a first offence.

Saarbrücken, a mere hop over the German border from the French cities of Strassbourg, Nancy and Metz, is already flooded with French male sex tourists at weekends and the new fine seems destined to boost trade even further. The Stuttgart concern Paradise Island Entertainment, which is behind the city’s new mega-brothel project, said it chose the city precisely because of its proximity to France. But Saarbrücken is simply an extreme example of what has occurred in most large German cities since the liberalisation laws of 2001. The country has become a magnet for sex tourism, with an estimated 400,000 prostitutes catering for a million men each day.

Statistics suggest that the aim to make prostitution a job like any other has backfired badly. Just 44 prostitutes are reported to have registered for welfare benefits so far and critics say that well-meaning legislation has helped, rather than discouraged, pimps.

Most health-insurance companies refuse to accept prostitutes as customers at reasonable rates because of what they say are the inherent risks involved. Taxes on brothels are usually passed on to the call girls who work in them, while uncontrolled street prostitution involving new arrivals from Eastern Europe continues to thrive.

Germany’s future “grand coalition” government this week signalled that it would rein in some aspects of the 2001 laws in an attempt to get a grip on the problem. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and their prospective Social Democrat partners said they would ban so-called  “flat-rate” sex offered by some brothels and provide better protection for victims of enforced prostitution.

However, critics have complained that such proposals do not go nearly far enough. In Saarbrucken, insiders in city’s red light scene say the measures would make “absolutely no difference” to the city’s booming sex trade.

The backlash against Germany’s prostitution explosion is being driven by the country’s renowned 1960s’ feminist activist Alice Schwarzer.  She argues that prostitution has become a form of modern slavery.

IN NUMBERS

400,000: Estimated number of prostitutes working in Germany

44: Number of German sex workers covered by social insurance

1,000: Estimated number of prostitutes in Saarbrucken

€4.5m: Cost of  new “mega-brothel” in Saarbrucken

 

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‘Hungarian sex gang’ Allegedly Ran Brothel on University of Sussex Campus

Mate Puskas, 25, allegedly ran a brothel on the University of Sussex Campus

Mate Puskas, 25, allegedly ran a brothel on the University of Sussex Campus

Student accommodation at the University of Sussex was used as a brothel by an international prostitution ring, a court was told.

Five Hungarian men and a woman are accused of flying more than 50 young women into the UK and setting them up in hotels, student accommodation and residential housing across Sussex.

Mate Puskas, 25, Victoria Brown, 25, Zoltan Mohacsi, 36, Istvan Toth, 34 and Peter Toth, 28, all deny running of the “complex” organisation.

Hove Crown Court heard the gang, which is linked to a Hungarian organised crime group, advertised the girls for sex through an adult website.

David Walbank, prosecuting, told how the five recruited young women, some as young as 18, from Hungary and arranged for them to fly to the UK.

They would then take them to hotels near the airports, including Gatwick, before sending them as far and afield as Glasgow and Margate.

He added they also arranged pornographic shoots for the women, scheduled appointments with clients and negotiated on sexual services and prices.

As the trial opened yesterday Mr Walbank said: “This is a case about individual people, specifically the young Hungarian women who are the most obvious victims.

Mate Puskas

Victoria Brown, 25, allegedly ran a brothel on the University of Sussex Campus.

 “The overall history of what was done by these girls and to these girls is a series of individual human tragedies, the consequences of which will affect many of them for a lifetime.”

The jury was told more than 50 women had been identified as sex workers although Mr Walbank said the number was likely to be “significantly higher”.

He added that although just five defendants were on trial, the “scale” and “complexity” of the operation suggested many more were also involved.

The gang first came to the attention of police in 2011.

The court was told how the University of Sussex’s building manager, Martin West, was alerted to an email advertising escorts in Park Village on the Falmer campus.

In one of the semi-naked profiles he recognized the distinct campus curtains and bedding a prostitute was sprawled across.

The jury heard he went to investigate and found a young woman wearing a vest top and knickers. He also found a number of wet wipes and a large box of condoms.

Mr Walbank told the jury how the gang set up brothels across Sussex including one in a basement flat in Marine Parade, Eastbourne.

After a tip-off police visited the flat and found a young woman “dressed provocatively” sitting on a bed with her “cleavage showing”.

The jury heard one of the prostitutes called the address a brothel later in the investigation, confessing she had sex there with up to 15 men a day.

The group also used a string of hotels close to Gatwick to accommodate prostitutes, the jury heard.

Among them were the Ibis Holiday Inn and the Gatwick Moat House Hotel.

Staff reported a succession of foreign girls checking in before being visited by numerous men each day.

On one occasion, police officers were called to the Gatwick Moat House on December 10 2011 when staff grew suspicious of their guest in room 401.

The jury heard officers approached the room to hear “muffled banging”. Inside they found a young female wearing just her underwear and bins “overflowing with refuse including toilet paper and used condoms”, Mr Walbank said.

A third location, a house rented in Zion Place, Margate, Kent was also regularly visited by a series of men.

The gang had a “fleet of vehicles” to run the complex operation and regularly updated website profiles, Mr Walbank said.

Mate Puskas

Zoltan Mohacsi, 36, allegedly ran a brothel on the University of Sussex Campus.

The jury heard all but Brown are Hungarian nationals.

Brown, who has lived in Holland Road, Hove, was in a relationship with Puskas.

Mr Walbank added: “Each of these defendants was actively involved in running an international prostitution ring which involved the trafficking of young women from Hungary.

“They arranged appointments with paying clients whom these young women were expected to service by performing every imaginable type of sexual activity and then pocketing a large slice of the cash proceeds.”

Puskas, of Surrey Street, Croydon, Brown, of Oakley Road, Bognor, Mohacsi, of Cranbrook Road, Ilford and Istvan and Peter Toth, of St John’s Road, Eastbourne, face three counts of conspiracy to control the activities of prostitutes for gain, conspiracy to traffic into the UK and conspiracy to traffic within the UK.

Istvan and Peter Toth, who were not in court, are being tried in their absence.

The trial is listed to last for eight weeks.

Daughters of the brothel

brothel

New Delhi: Steroid use, sexually transmitted diseases, under age prostitution, these are some of the most significant features of the streets of Daulatdia.

Daulatdia is Bangladesh’s largest brothel-village, and while most of the sex workers know they will never leave, some are taking action to ensure their children don’t suffer the same fate, writes Christine Jackman.

Sometimes the doors of hell swing both ways. This much Shumi knows. She is 17 years old. She is far from her rural home.

She is meant to be working in a garment factory, toiling over a sewing machine or cutting table 12 hours a day, seven days a week, to send money home to her ageing parents.

But there is no factory here, no city lights or whirring industry.

Just a dusty, pot-holed highway with a queue of lorries and cattle trucks and buses stretching as far as the eye can see, waiting their turn for an ancient ferry to cross the vast Padma and Jamuna Rivers.

Leaning into this curve of highway is Daulatdia, a shanty town of corrugated iron and battered bricks.

Shumi came here with an older woman who visited her village touting the promise of city jobs. But now she has gone.

The last time the wide-eyed teenager saw her chaperon, she was tucking crumpled banknotes into the folds of her sari as she disappeared into Daulatdia’s maze of alleys without a backward glance.

Shumi has been sold. For less than $200, her future has been deposited here, in a tiny room with a rag over a window and blankets strewn across a creaking bed.

She has joined a production line, after all, albeit one where the business is lust and the output is pleasure for up to 3000 male visitors each day.

With a population of more than 1300 sex workers, almost 900 children and about 500 shopkeepers supporting the trade, Daulatdia is the largest residential brothel in Bangladesh – and one of the biggest in the world.

For more than six decades, it has serviced the hordes of men who travel the highway, one of the busiest trade routes in the country, as they wait to cross the Padma River, and anyone else who cares to make the trip from Dhaka, about 70 km east.

And this much Shumi also now knows: she cannot go back to her village.

She has no phone number and no money, and even if she could find her way there, there would be no home for her now.

She is no longer daughter; she is a whore, the carrier of a scourge worse than any disease: the curse of shame.

And so she waits. She endures the beatings from her “landlady” and gets to know the other young chukri, or bonded prostitutes, who work the madam’s rooms.

Know about Bangladesh’s largest brothel village where sex workers live in penury

Know about Bangladesh’s largest brothel village where sex workers live in penury

During the day, Shumi sometimes joins them as they throw back their glittering headscarves, giggling, to share dreams of one day paying off their bonds and renting one of Daulatdia’s 2500 or so rooms independently. But her eyes are always veiled.

Tonight, she lies still as the breathing of the man in the bed beside her steadies and deepens. She sees her chance. Until now, her obvious youth has been an enemy, drawing the gaze of lascivious visitors ever-hungry for new flesh.

But this evening, as she stealthily pulls on her client’s hat and coat, she is grateful she is still coltish. She might just pass for a gawky university student who has jumped a train down from Dhaka to take his turn with the girls of Daulatdia.

For once, too, the village’s nightly heave of drug-fuelled hedonism is her friend, as Shumi slips unnoticed toward one of the brothel’s narrow gateways.

She has managed what few before her have achieved. As the girl flees towards the railway tracks, she passes first through a rocky, rubbish-strewn field behind the brothel.

Denied burial on consecrated ground, it is here, in unmarked graves, that most of the women of Daulatdia will end their days.

At what age does a child realize he or she is unclean? When does a young boy understand his place of birth has robbed him of any right to an education or healthcare, or a girl that she exists for only one awful thing?

The children of Daulatdia seem happy today. They are not thinking of sin or sorrow, but of the unlikely vision of two Western women sipping soft drinks in their village’s main thoroughfare, flushed by the 35-degree heat and a relentless humidity that smothers the body like a warm, wet doona.

Nearby, men spit red-tinged betel juice as they haggle with the sex workers, or blow sweet clouds of gunja smoke and play cards, waiting for the oppressive heat to fade before they choose a woman.

But this knot of pre-school children has eyes only for the foreigners, erupting into delighted belly laughs when one begins talking to a large goat as it nudges insistently behind her legs for scraps.

“They are trying to tell you this is a goat, not a person,” our interpreter, Tuhin Nazmul, translates helpfully for Karen Flanagan, a child protection specialist with Save the Children Australia. “They are explaining that the goats here cannot understand people.”

Flanagan appreciates the irony. Save the Children has been running projects in and around Daulatdia since 1997, in recent years with support from the Australian government, and its veterans are hyper-vigilant about ideas being lost in translation.

While prostitution is officially illegal in this moderate Muslim country, the Bangladeshi government has been no more successful than any other modern administration at stamping out the street sex trade in its sprawling cities.

It also tolerates 14 “registered” brothels, most of which are concentrations of 100-plus sex workers living and working in self-contained communities.

“More than half of Bangladesh’s 60 million children are estimated to be living below the poverty line,” says Flanagan.

“And among them, children of sex workers, in and out of brothels, are undoubtedly some of the most vulnerable, because they are already ostracized from the community and routinely denied basic rights like education and public health.”

There are three main reasons a child might find themselves in a brothel like Daulatdia, two of which involve forms of trafficking.

With rural poverty rife, even as Bangladesh enjoys solid economic growth and urban expansion, young village girls like Shumi are easily enticed by strangers offering domestic work or jobs in the notorious sweatshops that feed the West’s demand for cheap fashion.

The girls usually go with their parents’ earnest encouragement – and expectation that part of their pay will be sent back home – but in some cases they may be sold knowingly by their desperate families.

“Another form of trafficking will involve a man arriving in a village and lavishing an attractive young girl with his attentions,” Flanagan says.

“It’s a form of ‘grooming’, when you think about it. The girl genuinely falls in love with him, and he promises to marry her – or will actually do so – and then he takes her away and sells her to a brothel.”

As nightmarish as it sounds, being sold into the sex trade for an average price of less than 20,000 taka ($270) is so commonplace, most sex workers seem surprised to be asked their feelings about it.

“I just accepted the situation as my fate,” says 35-year-old Rina, after describing how an older female “friend” convinced her to run away when she was just 12, after a fight with her parents, only to sell her to a brothel days later.

“I don’t like anything about the work here, but what else can I do? I was heartbroken. Then my mother died, my father died, but still my extended family won’t agree to have me back.”

Just as grim is the third pathway to brothel life. “To be born here means you are instantly at risk,” says Flanagan.

“Workers usually live in a single room with their children. When mothers are seeing clients, some will put their babies and young children under the bed.

Later, they might be put outside in the alleyway, although some workers still try hard to monitor their children, even tying bells around their waists to keep track of them.

“Obviously, girls are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse themselves, and being groomed for future work here, but the boys can be exploited as well. The clients will often use them as drug runners.”

A more recent horror is the increasing use of Oradexone, a drug designed to fatten cattle, which some madams give their young workers to make them more curvaceous.

The steroid can cause an array of painful side-effects, including headaches and skin rashes, and long-term use may be deadly.

Neglect is a given. Babies sleep wherever their eyes fall shut, toddlers skitter between boiling cauldrons of soup and gutters choked with noxious sludge: rotting food scraps, used condoms, animal faeces.

As friendly and unabashedly inquisitive as they are, many of the older children are also unnervingly intimate.

“Hello, how are you living?” a girl who looks about 11 or 12 greets me. A moment earlier, she had been chatting with her friends about hair ornaments; now she is weaving around me like a cat.

“You can be my friend?” she asks, taking my hand as we walk past an open room where a semi-naked man lies prone on the floor, watching Manchester United play on a battered television. “We can be friends.”

All the while, her fingers are stroking my palm.

It is what she knows; after all, she has grown up in an environment where exhausted mothers must save their attentions for the highest bidder, and a woman’s ability to deliver physical affection on cue determines her worth.

The day before, an older worker smiled as she took my scarf and folded it neatly, re-adjusting it to sit in place across my chest as modesty requires, even in a brothel.

Seconds later, I felt a pinch on my rear and turned to find her smiling, rubbing her fingers together in the universal sign for money.

Most of the sex workers working here have the same tale to tell. Mostly all of them were handed over to maîtresses here by their family members during their childhood days.

The starting price for sex varies widely, depending in part on the age and physical assets of the individual worker and, in turn, their own assessment of a client’s looks and ability to pay.

The bottom-pinching worker has services beginning at about 200 taka. Later, I calculate the exchange rate and realise this is less than the amount I’d put in a brown paper bag for my son’s school tuckshop order just a couple of days earlier.

But moral judgment is a luxury reserved for those with options.

Here, life is run to suit men like Akram Shekh, a 40-year-old jute trader who doesn’t see the double standard in spending three days a week in the brothel with his mistress, a powerful madam with 11 sex workers renting her rooms, while his wife raises their two children at home, plus the daughter he fathered with another Daulatdia sex worker.

“I took Eti home because, as a good father, I didn’t want to stigmatise my daughter,” he says proudly, handing me a photograph of a smiling six-year-old.

“And I don’t want her to ever re-enter this world … My wife wasn’t happy looking after her at first, nor when I started coming here, but now she accepts it because I am a businessman and a good provider.”

Shekh is just one of many men profiting from a trade they ostensibly denigrate.

It is well-established that organised crime flourishes whenever prostitution is criminalised, and only a naïf would believe Bangladeshi police and its politicians are untouchable.

So, how do you change things when an entire economy thrives on keeping you powerless? “You start with the mothers,” Flanagan says.

“The grim reality is the daughter of a sex worker represents 20-30 years’ worth of earnings in the only work most of these women know … so if we want to change the future, particularly if we want to change the supply and demand for child sex workers, we have to change the mothers’ attitude and give them a stake in managing the solutions.”

True to this philosophy, Save the Children coordinates most of its programs through Mukti Mohila Samity (MMS), a powerful sex workers’ collective that oversees all aspects of brothel life.

Both organisations recognize a primary challenge is to help second- and third-generation sex workers to imagine life outside Daulatdia.

That is why today Parul, an MMS educator, is holding a “life skills” class in the shade of a tree near Daulatdia’s rear entrance.

Clustered in a small circle, the women study a series of laminated cartoons depicting the life of a sex worker, which ends in penury and shame, in comparison to that of a woman with an education, who funds her retirement after a career as a school teacher.

“Our children see an easy cash flow here,” Parul tells them.

“And they don’t have any alternative vision. But if we motivate them to go to school, they can take care of us in later life. If a child gets out of the brothel, they can get a job and take you away as well. They can get jobs that are respectable and live somewhere where people won’t know you as a sex worker.”

She holds up another card, depicting several accomplished Bengali women.

“We should motivate our daughters with stories of successful women, like Begum Roquia,” she says, pointing to the Muslim feminist writer whose science fiction short story, Sultana’s Dream, depicts a futuristic world where women take over after an enormous, futile war fought by men.

Female scientists discover how to control the climate and build flying cars, while men are kept in seclusion. It was written more than a century ago.

At the end of Parul’s presentation, I ask whether the women would like to nominate any practical initiative that would help them achieve their own dreams for the future. There is a brief silence, then their voices rise and several crowd around me.

The brothel of Daulatdia has almost 2000 women servicing almost 3000 men a day. Young girls who already have their mothers working as a sex worker are left with no option but to follow their mothers’ footsteps. Their kid-like appearance which may not appeal to clients is forcefully enhanced by steroid use. Heavy make up is used by these young prostitutes to conceal their real age.

“They are saying this brothel is no place to live and the children need to get out,” Nazmul, the interpreter, says. “And they are asking you to take their children away.”

Vee-see-tor!!” dozens of tiny faces line the fence of the MMS early childhood development centre, as the cry goes up to alert those playing tag nearby that a new distraction approaches.

It is mid-afternoon, and several hundred children have assembled for “education support”, a classroom-based program for brothel children who remain ostracised from mainstream schools, or need tutoring to support their efforts within it.

Meanwhile, their younger siblings, who attend the early childhood program, linger to play and sing.

Crucially, the centre’s activities extend into the evening, giving the children a respite from the pumping music and grinding flesh that proliferate behind Daulatdia’s grim walls, just metres away.

“It’s out of control in there,” says 12-year-old Banna, softly-spoken in her neat, blue-and-white uniform. “I don’t like my mother’s profession.

She understands I don’t want to be involved there and they [MMS] tell her she should try to protect me.”

Everyone knows Banna has reached a critical point. As puberty approaches, her body is becoming more enticing to visiting men – and more attractive as an income source for her ageing mother who, like almost all brothel workers, has no retirement savings, no pension and no access to public healthcare.

Fortunately, Banna is able to board with her older sister Ria, 22, who was educated with support from Save the Children, and is now married.

“After school, I visit my mother,” Banna says. “She sees no escape for herself but now she is trying to help me. I tell her I’m an average student – but I’m hoping to become a doctor.”

There was a time when Save the Children did something very similar to what the women in Parul’s life skills group requested, establishing a “safe house” for girls who wanted to flee the brothel.

“But the problem with building institutions like that is the children keep coming, while the underlying issues don’t change,” explains Flanagan.

Instead, now the focus of the agency, and other charities like it, is to help the workers themselves run education and childcare programs, as well as a “Safe Space” for children within the brothel.

Staffed around the clock by sex workers who are trained and paid for their shifts, the neat little room is tucked just a few steps beyond one of Daulatdia’s busiest thoroughfares, a rare and orderly oasis amid the brothel’s tangle of human flesh.

It is here that I discover Faith, as delicate and watchful as a sparrow, who hopes that while Safe Space represents a temporary escape for its young visitors, it might also herald a permanent one for her.

“I told [MMS] I would take any kind of job to get out of here, and here they are giving me new training,” she says quietly. “I want to have a better life.”

Educated in a conservative religious madrassa, and paired to a violent man in an arranged marriage when she was just 15 years old, Faith had no idea what a brothel was when she arrived in Daulatdia via a now-familiar route.

“I needed to get away from my husband because he was beating me every day,” she explains.

“So when a woman said she could get me domestic work, I took my baby and went with her … It was only when the landlady started bringing men to the house and I saw the other girls with them, that I worked it out. I started shouting, saying I didn’t want to be here and I was going to leave.”

Faith’s voice trails away as she pulls up the shirt of her son Nabeeh, now six years old, to reveal an angry scar that extends from his hip to his ribcage.

“She picked up a hot frypan and burnt him in my arms. He was 23 days old. Then she said if I tried to leave, she would kill him – and me, too.”

And so, like Shumi, Faith tucks her hope away behind veiled eyes and waits for her chance. But unlike Shumi, she has a support network now and is slowly building a life raft from her new skills.

“It is hard outside, even for girls who we help with vocational education and jobs,” says MMS executive director Morjina Begum.

Oredexon, a cow fattening steroid with lethal side effects, is often used by these kids to look older. The brothel owners, popularly known as “madam’’ are former prostitutes who have grown old and now buy girls and manage the monetary affairs of the brothel. Becoming a brothel owner someday is the only career option a young prostitute can look up to.

Last year alone, the collective removed 22 underage workers from Daulatdia, as part of an ongoing awareness and intervention program aimed at stamping out underage sex work within the brothel. “But without training, it is almost impossible.

They come back and we can’t stop them if they say they are over 18 years old and they want to be here. They are alone out there and this is what they know.”

It takes a long time to retreat from the doors to hell. But at a drop-in service for street sex workers in Dhaka, we find Shumi. Having escaped Daulatdia, she was reluctant to work in a factory, or anywhere else where she felt she might again be trapped.

“The money is better [on the street] and I decide,” she says defiantly. She can’t imagine the future, but she says she has a plan of sorts.

“I want to leave this profession when my son Shawon is four or five years old, so he never has to face any comments about me, about what I do.”

Now, she pays an elderly woman to care for him at night, while she sells sexual services for 100 to 300 taka.

“I have no dreams for myself any more,” Shumi says. “But I want Shawon to get a good education and become a lawyer.”

Only later, when the young woman has been absorbed back into the mayhem of the Dhaka streets, do I learn what she has named her son.

The English translation for shawon is “evening”.

Good Weekend travelled to Daulatdia with the support of Save the Children Australia. Names of some sex workers have been changed to protect identities.

– Sydney Morning Herald

 

Irish ‘buy’ Indian children to save them from brothels

Babies, young girls kept in cages, sold to highest bidder

JUSTICE FIGHT: At the launch of ‘Taken’ were Danny Smith, founder of the Jubilee Campaign, Hazel Thompson, author of ‘Taken’, and Marc Carey, holding a picture of one of the victims.

NIAMH HORAN

IRISH business people are “buying” babies and young girls in order to rescue them from brothels in an infamous Indian red-light district where they are kept in cages and auctioned off for sex to the highest bidder, the Sunday Independent has learnt.

A young Irishman, Marc Carey, is fighting to release the children, some as young as nine months old, from the cages in which they are imprisoned for years while pimped for sex.

The harrowing story from 14th Street in Mumbai‘s red-light district Kamathipura – and Ireland’s reaction to it – has come to light as the world marks Anti-Slavery Day this weekend.

Mr Carey, 30, said the images of children imprisoned in the “dark, cruel and inhumane” conditions have to be seen to understand the true horror of their situation.

The former Griffith College student, who addressed the British House of Commons last week, has been working with the Jubilee Campaign and the Bombay Teen Challenge to help rescue victims and set up a safe houses for the rescued children, where they are given a second chance at life.

A number of wealthy Irish people have spent large sums of money to free the children from sex slavery. One business generously donated €20,000.

Mr Carey told the Sunday Independent: “Babies only a few months old, right up to young girls aged 11 and older, are kept in tiny dark cages for years on end. The cages are locked from the outside and manned by armed gangsters.

“You have to go down man holes and secret trap doors to get to them. Their spirit is broken and they are sold for sex for as little as €5. Virgins are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

“They are taken from families at such a young age that they can’t even talk, they have no education, and they don’t know the meaning of the word ‘escape’. When they are older they are let out to work because the pimps know they have no means of existing on their own.

“They have children who are reared in the brothels too. The mothers are raped while the children lie beside them on the floor, or hide under the bed. Suicide and HIV is a big problem there.”

Photojournalist Hazel Thompson has produced an ebook, Taken, about the scandal. Mr Carey became aware of the children’s plight through his job as European marketing director for the Hard Rock Cafe. “I was tasked with picking a charity for us to support but when I came across these underground brothels, I couldn’t get my mind off it.

“I’ll be returning to Mumbai in February to do more work and stay for a longer period of time helping to set up houses and schools for victims and, hopefully, I will have more funds with me this time.

“To see the difference in the children once they have been rescued is incredible. But at the same time you know what they have been through, the things they have seen. A friend put together a project called ‘Frame the Future’ recently where she asked the children what they would like to be when they are older and then dressed them accordingly for the photograph. She had doctors, pilots, business people. Despite where they have come from, their hopes for the future are bright.

“Gandhi famously said, ‘You must become the change you wish to see in the world’. How many of us are passionate or courageous enough to really follow this through? The scale of human trafficking and sex slavery that takes place in India is so daunting that it is tempting to ignore the issue.”

The Dubliner urged the public to become “digital activists” to help combat human trafficking.

“It’s easy to look away, but don’t let something as trivial as geography in today’s world be an obstacle for you. The use of the internet now means we can all be digital activists. Whether it is simply sending a tweet, signing an online petition or buying the ebook set up to support our new campaign, it all helps.”

For more info or to donate go to http://www.takenebook.com

 

The world’s first Bitcoin escort agency

 

Bitcoin brothels are here. Birmingham, UK based escort agency Passion VIP now accepts payments in Bitcoin – making it the world’s first.

Bitcoin brothel

Bitcoin is called the currency of the Internet: it is a new, peer-to-peer exchanged, decentralized electronic form of cash that can also be described as a “cryptocurrency.

By 

Would-be clients of upscale escorts in Birmingham, UK now have way to pay for escort services that’s just as discreet as cash and more secure: Bitcoin has officially entered the realm of sex work.

The world’s oldest profession met the world’s youngest currency as escort agency Passion VIP announced it now accepts payment for its adult companionship services in bitcoin.

Located in the second most populous British city (after London), Passion VIP is hoping the introduction of bitcoin payments will open up a new market by giving clients an alternative payment method.

Passion VIP (birminghamescorts.co.uk, site NSFW) told us,

We felt there were probably a lot of people out there who had Bitcoins and no way to really enjoy spending them. Accepting bitcoins seemed an obvious extension of our own interest in the currency.

Bitcoin is called the currency of the Internet: it is a new, peer-to-peer exchanged, decentralized electronic form of cash that can also be described as a “cryptocurrency.”

It is independent of any central authority, and bitcoins can be transferred through a computer or smartphone without an intermediate financial institution.

In a recent announcement, the plucky UK escort service added bitcoin transactions to its online pre-payment menu.

Order companionship, pay in Bitcoin

Customers can now order up the companionship they desire and pay in bitcoin on Passion VIP’s website.

Clients simply contact the agency’s receptionist to say they want to pay with bitcoin, confirm the booking times, and then send payment via Passion VIP’s bitcoin address (Passion VIP’s cryptographic public key) on its NSFW Bitcoin Escorts page.

Its “Bitcoin Escorts” page also has a handy scannable QR code if clients want to speed up the transaction.

The page also includes basic information about bitcoin transactions and links for people who want to learn more, or open an account.

The savvy UK adult business explained,

Clients who already hold bitcoins can use them immediately.

Those who aren’t familiar with the currency will find information on our website on how to buy and trade in bitcoins.

Once the client’s payment is processed, Passion VIP calls the client back with a confirmation and the date is set – with no one worrying about payment, theft or counterfeit on either side of the transaction.

The workers also can’t be forced to return the money even if under duress.

It could also make it difficult for police to prove that sex was had as a result of a financial transaction.

Additionally, with Bitcoin, clients don’t run the risk of an odd-looking transaction from a foreign country appearing on their credit card bills.

In this business model, it stands to reason that Bitcoin could make high-risk work such as escorting less dangerous and more businesslike.

Passion VIP told ZDNet,

There are several advantages for both escorts and clients. For clients the advantage is that it is totally anonymous. You could argue that cash is anonymous too, but not in the same way.

For the escorts it’s an easy an anonymous way to accept payment and unlike credit cards there are no chargebacks, which have been a huge problem for escorts and agencies in the past.

It also means that escorts are not handling large amounts of cash, reducing the risk of theft or robbery.  Few personal details are exchanged when using Bitcoins; it’s simple and efficient and a safe method of payment.

Passion VIP has a stable of fit male and female companionship workers, all available for in-house services or outcall visits – but the service is careful to state on its website, “Please note that this is not an offer for prostitution. Money exchanged is for time and companionship only.”

In the UK, the exchange of sexual services for money is legal – but public soliciting and owning or managing a brothel are crimes.

For ordinary payment by cash or card, each Passion VIP escort has different rates on their individual profile pages.

Bitcoin rates are higher.

The agency’s bitcoin rates list two separate categories distinguishing premium companionship from standard, with higher rates for more exclusive companions.

The cost for one hour of a “Standard” lady’s time is 2.5 BTC, 90 minutes is 3.75 BTC, a dinner date is 5 BTC, an overnight will cost you 14 BTC, and additional hours are 2 BTC each.

One hour of an “Elite” lady’s time is 2.75 BTC, 90 minutes is 4.75 BTC, a dinner date is 5.25 BTC, an overnight will cost you 15 BTC, and additional hours are 2.25 BTC each.

At current Bitcoin exchange rates, that puts an hour with Standard companionship at $309.75 (£192.62), and $340.72 (£211.88) for one hour of Elite time.

In domestic currency, Passion VIP’s Katarina is £150/hour, Mike is £120/hour, whereas Elite Alannah is £160.

And with one bitcoin exchanging for 1 = $123.9 (£77.05), asking an Elite to spend the night will run a steep $1858.50.

Like sex work and similar forms of paid companionship, the Bitcoin currency is controversial for a number of reasons.

Both share an unstable market, covert operation and the need for relative anonymity, and neither are widely accepted as “legitimate” in their categories (work and currency, respectively).

However, bitcoin is a lot younger than the “oldest profession” – the protocol was created in 2008 and the currency’s network was in 2009.

Bitcoin has been mildly popular as currency for adult online “cam” work in the past few years, where clients pay for live adult entertainment – usually shows or sexual interaction, and with individuals rather than agencies – performed via webcam.

The most famous example is Reddit’s NSFW community, Girls Gone Bitcoin (/r/girlsgonebitcoin, NSFW).

In this subreddit forum, people – mostly girls – show skin while flashing a FirstBits payment address or QR-code where viewers can deposit their “appreciation” in Bitcoin.

Since then, amateur couples on “Cam4BTC” and various other adult performers have posted to Girls Gone Bitcoin when they offer live online sex shows in exchange for bitcoins.

Brothels in a Slump Over Online Hookups

Sex workers Alana Luv, left, and Brooke Taylor chat in the parlor at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House, Nevada.

Sex workers Alana Luv, left, and Brooke Taylor chat in the parlor at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House, Nevada.

Nevada brothels hurting from unlikely source — the Internet 

Brothels like The Mustang Ranch in Nevada are hurting from sex workers using the internet to find clients. A brothel lobbyist tells the News that while some dens of iniquity can survive, others may not be so lucky.

By / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

First, it was bookstores. Then, the newspaper business. Now, an unlikely industry is suffering from the prevalence of the internet — brothels.

These Nevada “dens of iniquity” are facing a fate of ill-repute. Because prostitutes can now use the Internet to find their clientele, they’re finding less of a need for legal brothels.

George Flint, the senior lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Owners Association, told the Daily News that the pattern is unlikely to change any time soon.

Sex worker Brooke Taylor sits for a photograph inside her room at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House.

Sex worker Brooke Taylor sits for a photograph inside her room at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House.

“The economy’s hurting the brothels, and the prostitutes are using the Internet to promote their services,” he explained. Skyrocketing fuel prices mean not as many clients drive by the lonely neon signage, and loss of income means even loyal patrons may not be able to pay.

But it hasn’t always been so.

Sex workers Jaylynn Jones, left, and Sarah Vandella, who also works as an adult film actress, sit at the bar at the Mustang Ranch brothel in Sparks, Nevada.

Sex workers Jaylynn Jones, left, and Sarah Vandella, who also works as an adult film actress, sit at the bar at the Mustang Ranch brothel in Sparks, Nevada.

Whorehouses sprang up in the Old West, as men rushed to work in boomtowns in the hopes of striking it rich.

And more than a century and a half later, Nevada remains the only state that legally allows the practice to continue.

Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

In modern times, however, sex workers are given more of a choice in the brothel business.

“Brothels are confining for a woman,” Flint, 79, said.

Sex worker Brooke Taylor sits for a photograph inside the parlor at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House, Nevada.

Sex worker Brooke Taylor sits for a photograph inside the parlor at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House, Nevada.

“Years ago, you’d have to check in for a few weeks, that’s all ancient history now. At least 30%-40% of women who have worked at brothels throughout the years, if they still want to make better-than-average money, they use facets of the Internet.”

Of course, this practice is illegal, Flint said.

But for men wanting companionship, a freelance female may be more affordable.

The Mustang Ranch brothel sign is displayed at the entrance to the brothel in Sparks, Nevada.

The Mustang Ranch brothel sign is displayed at the entrance to the brothel in Sparks, Nevada.

Flint said that he himself has seen a man driving a black Mercedes pick up a street-walker. It’s all in the cost — a free agent may charge as little as $50 for her services, while a visit to the brothel costs at least $200.

And Nevada, unlike other states, is still trapped in a post-recession slump.

The Mustang Ranch brothel stands in Sparks, Nevada. Rising fuel costs and the hangover from the recession have hurt the business.

The Mustang Ranch brothel stands in Sparks, Nevada. Rising fuel costs and the hangover from the recession have hurt the business.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate hovers at 9.5%. The national average is 7.4%.

Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but sex workers in Sin City circumvent the law by posting ads on Craigslist for “escort services.”

According to state estimates, there are some 30,000 sex workers in Las Vegas alone.

For many women, Flint said, it simply pays better than other lines of work. And there’s always a need.

Prostitutes say that there is a certain amount of comfort in working in a controlled environment like a brothel. “We’re tested here. It’s safe,” a woman named Taylor, who works at the Bunny Ranch, told Bloomberg News.

Flint said that while there were around three dozen legal brothels in Nevada when he began lobbying for them, the number is dwindling, around a current number of 18 or 19.

“I think the industry will survive,” he told The News, “but it will be a survival of the fittest.”

bstebner@nydailynews.com

http://www.today.com/video/today/23586723#23586723