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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
German brothel welcomes World Cup
By Tristana Moore
BBC News, Berlin

From the outside, it looks like an ordinary motel that you would find on the edge of a motorway.

Prostitute
Prostitution has been legal in Germany since 2002

But as you walk into Artemis, a few scantily-clad women who are standing near the main entrance provide an obvious sign that there is more on offer here.

Artemis is one of Germany's largest brothels. It opened recently, just in time for the World Cup.

It is a short bus ride from Berlin's Olympic stadium, where many of the games, and the final, will be played.

Booming business

The managers of Artemis are hoping to attract thousands of football fans, who will be in Germany this summer.

"We think that we'll probably get double the number of clients during the World Cup," said Eike Wilmans, one of the managers of Artemis.

"We're going to put up screens and show all the games. We also have two cinemas, so the clients and the women can watch football. And if a match doesn't go according to expectations, well, men can work out in the gym, take a girl, and relax," he says, smiling.

Once you get past the reception, you may feel as though you are in some kind of a luxury hotel.

Mural
The Artemis brothel boasts neo-classical murals

The champagne bar is spacious and opulent, the walls are decorated with neo-classical paintings of women, and there are discreet sofas in several corners, which are surrounded by dark velvet curtains.

The brothel is arranged on several different levels. There is a restaurant, two cinemas, a large swimming pool, gym, Turkish bath and rooms, or plush suites, which can be rented out.

Prostitution is legal in Germany, and the managers of Artemis say that all the women who work here have registered with the authorities and they pay tax.

Its opulence is not unique for Germany where, according to some estimates, up to 400,000 women work as prostitutes.

Late nights

Luna is 32 years old and she comes from Belgrade. I met her at nine o'clock in the morning after she had finished her shift at Artemis.

She looked tired, and she apologised for being sleepy.

"I'm sorry, I had a late night," she said.

"Sometimes the 'guests' stay until five o'clock in the morning. I feel safe working here - there are cameras everywhere. Look, prostitution is the world's oldest profession. You can't stop it. It's much better for women that prostitution has been legalised in Germany. It makes it more difficult for criminal gangs to operate," she added.

We're worried that more women will be smuggled into Germany from Eastern Europe and they may be forced into working in the sex industry
Henny Engels, German Women's Council

The men who visit Artemis have to pay an entrance fee of 70 euros (48; $90).

They get a bathrobe, towel, access to the premises, including a couple of meals, and they can stay in the brothel all day and night, up until five in the morning, if they choose to do so.

The women who work at Artemis also have to pay an entrance fee, of 50 euros. The women say they are free to negotiate the cost of their services, for sex, with the clients.

Women's rights

Prostitution is talked about openly. Coco, 23, lives at Artemis. Like some of the other sex-workers, she rents a room.

"I would never want to work on the streets, or in any other country where prostitution is illegal," Coco said.

Swimming pool
If their team is disappointing, customers can relax in the pool...

"There's always the risk that someone can kidnap you and it's dangerous and dirty. I've registered with the authorities as a sex hostess.

I come from Bonn originally, and I work in Berlin because I know I can get good work at Artemis. I'm my own boss, and I can keep all the money that I earn," she said.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002. Campaigners say the new laws safeguard women's rights.

"Women can work in a safe environment," said Henny Engels, from the German Women's Council. "Sex-workers have basic human rights. These women are now protected against pimps, or any violence, and they should not face discrimination in society."

Demand

But there are fears that with millions of football fans expected in Germany during the World Cup, there will be a greater demand for prostitutes.

"We're worried that more women will be smuggled into Germany from Eastern Europe and they may be forced into working in the sex industry," said Henny Engels.

Brothel boudoir
...or "take a girl and relax" according to manager Eike Wilmans

According to some estimates, up to 40,000 women could be forced into prostitution during the tournament, but there are no official figures.

According to a German Interior Ministry spokesman, forced prostitution is a "serious issue" and the authorities will do everything in their power to crack down on illegal trafficking.

The prostitutes who work at Artemis say they are lucky that the laws were changed in Germany.

"I am a German professional like any other woman," said Luna, "I work in a safe environment and I enjoy my job."


SEE ALSO
Europe diary: World Cup sex
22 Feb 06 |  Europe

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