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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
EU entry hits Czech sex trade
Prostitute plies trade by roadside
A familiar scene for cross-border travellers

The number of prostitutes lining the main truck routes through the Czech-German border has plummeted since the Czech Republic joined the EU on 1 May.

The Czech press says truck drivers - the prostitutes' chief clients - are now passing through the border swiftly without needing to spend hours in traffic queues.

"The inhabitants of the border areas can finally breathe a sigh of relief," says Pravo.

EU entry has at a stroke solved a huge problem which the local authorities have been unable to tackle for years, it adds.

The mayor of Cesky Tesin in north Moravia, Jindrich Sznapka, told the daily that prostitutes had profited mainly from the truck drivers.

And the town's police chief, Jan Hruza, said: "In the past, drivers used to wait here for several hours, which naturally attracted prostitutes. But now drivers have no time... Hardly any of them stop for prostitutes."

"Most of them are now hanging around at bus stops and petrol stations," a driver from Ceske Budejovice told Pravo.

Sex tourism wilts

Prostitutes along the highway from Teplice in north Bohemia to the Czech-German border crossing at Cinovec are also disappearing due to dwindling customers, the paper says.

According to local people, this decline is also due to a longer term fall in the number of cash-rich German "sex tourists" visiting the poorer former communist country.

A spokesman for Dubi Town Hall in north Bohemia, Jindrich Pech, told the daily that many brothels in the town were now up for sale or had closed.

With their business facing tough times, prostitutes might concentrate along another ill-famed route - the international E55 road which crosses the Czech Republic from Austria to Germany, Mr Hruza said.

Moves to legalise

Last month the government gave the go-ahead to a new law that would legalise prostitution.

Under such a bill, offering sexual services would become a profession regulated by the state, possibly defined as freelancing rather than as a business. Such laws already exist in Austria and Germany, the bill's authors say.

According to estimates cited by the internet magazine Czech Happenings, up to 25,000 people earn their living as prostitutes in the Czech Republic.

But the move has already drawn criticism from abroad.

Pravo carried a story this week saying President Vaclav Klaus and the heads of both chambers of parliament had received a letter from the US Southern Baptist Convention warning against the planned legalisation of prostitution.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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29 Apr 04  |  Europe

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