Drive-in sex booths proposed at historic airport


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By Matthew Robinson, CNN

(CNN) — Berlin’s former Tempelhof airport has witnessed some major events in its time — it was a Nazi airfield during World War II, the site of the Berlin airlift during the Cold War, and most recently an emergency shelter for refugees fleeing Syria.

In 2008, it was taken out of service and transformed into a gigantic park, and Berliners can now be seen rollerblading down its former runways on summer evenings.

But the airfield may soon take on less wholesome role, if one local politician gets his way.

The mayor of Berlin’s central Mitte district has proposed installing “Verichtungsboxen” — booths where prostitutes can meet clients — in the airport site, a bid to improve the safety of the city’s sex workers. These include drive-in booths, where customers can meet sex workers in their own vehicles.

Mayor Stephan von Dassel is attempting to combat prostitution on Kurfürstenstrasse, an upmarket street in Mitte with a history of sex workers.

“Residents and businesses have been calling for a ban on street prostitution for many years,” he wrote in a statement. Yet he notes that the Berlin Senate has refused to implement regulatory restrictions “because it fears a deterioration of the overall situation.”

He is now proposing a restriction on street prostitution in the district, instead offering sex workers booths in controlled areas in a bid, he says, to improve the lives of “residents and sex workers” alike.

Dassel warns that unregulated street prostitution is leading to men “seeking sexual services at such a low price” that prostitutes are having to engage in sexual services as a “bulk business in order to earn a basic income.”

He says only a minority of sex workers on the street are receiving health advice and have been registered as sex workers; the number of places where sex workers can engage in sexual acts in private is diminishing; and the visibility of pimps is having a “negative impact on the safety of residents,” he says.

Sarah Hilmer, a Berlin resident who lives in central Mitte, told CNN that prostitution has “always been integrated in Berlin life.”

She added that while sex workers have always been visible close to her apartment, between Oranienburger Strasse and Hackescher Markt, their visibility seems to have diminished in recent months, and she expressed concern at the proposal to move them to controlled areas away from the center.

“It seemed controlled here,” she said. “I feel like it is moving it to a place where it is less of an inconvenience for rich people. I felt happy when they were fine on a street corner, rather than pushing them out of sight. The men who went with them were very visible, so it felt like some control. But if it moves out of sight, it might be less safe.”

Sex booths first appeared in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands in the mid-1980s, and the concept has subsequently spread to multiple European cities.

It was adopted by the western German city of Cologne in 2001, where the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

      

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