Berlin’s former Tempelhof airport has witnessed some major events in its time — a Nazi airfield during World War II, it was the site of the Berlin airlift during the Cold War, and most recently an emergency shelter for refugees fleeing Syria.
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.
Stephan von Dassel, the mayor who represents the Green party, 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, who has spent two years looking into the issue on Kurfürstenstrasse, 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.
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