Berlin’s historic Tempelhof airport could become the site of regulated, drive-in sex booths, if a German politician has his way in finding a solution to inhumane conditions for sex workers.
According to a report by CNN, the mayor of Berlin’s central Mitte district has proposed installing sex booths at either the former Tempelhof airport, which is now a large recreational park and parade ground, or the Zentraler Festplatz, an open-air fairground in the district of Wedding.
Stephan von Dassel, the mayor who represents the Green party, is attempting to have “Verichtungsboxen” – booths where prostitutes can meet clients – installed at the former airport, in a bid to improve the safety of the city’s sex workers.
It also comes in a bid to address public calls for prostitution to be banned on Kurfürstenstrasse, which is reportedly an upmarket street in Mitte with a history of sex workers.
“Publicly controlled performance boxes can improve working conditions, especially women’s safety, and reduce the negative impact of prostitution on the living environment,” he said in a statement.
Drive-in booths, where customers can meet sex workers in their own vehicles, have also been proposed.
In a statement from the District Office, Dassel said a senate-mandated Round Table on sex work had called for “experimentation” in order to improve the safety of the city’s sex workers.
In current conditions, sex workers were being forced to engage in sexual services as a “bulk business”, just to make a minimum income, for men on Kurfürstenstrasse seeking sexual services at such a low price that it involves “open and undignified enforcement”.
Only a minority of sex workers working are registered sex workers, and places where sexual intercourse can take place in private have diminished and continue to shrink, he said.
“Residents of Kurfürstenstrasse have encountered street prostitution there with much tolerance and understanding for the plight of local sex workers,” Dassel said, but added that the Berlin senate had refused to implement regulatory restrictions because “it fears a a deterioration of the whole situation”.
He also noted that the region has developed an identity as a sex tourism destination for Germans and internationals, as the area has been advertised for “cheap sex”.
This is detrimental to the safety of residents in the region and sex workers, he said, adding that criminal structures were sometimes behind the organisation of sex work.
The presence of pimps is also having a negative impact on the safety of sex workers and residents, with only a small portion of “daily” violence against sex workers by pimps reported.
“The Senate and the districts Tempelhof-Schöneberg and Mitte are financing measures to improve the social and hygienic situation on the ground, which could reduce the problems on the ground but have not been able to solve them in the long term,” Dassel said.
Dassel said that the current situation for sex workers on Kurfürstenstrasse is “inhumane,” and that by refusing to act, Berlin is tolerating “forced prostitution, violence against women and drug addiction”.