Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

After 4 years of legal proceedings, the owner of Paradise, a German brothel chain, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison for complicity in human trafficking, forced prostitution, and fraud. All profits gained from these crimes, amounting to 1.3 million euros, has been confiscated. This judicial decision is historic for Germany, a country for which their regulatory policy surrounding prostitution has rendered them the “brothel of Europe.”

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With this decision, justice has been served to some of the biggest stars of German society. Symbols of economic success and a prostitution “free from taboos,” Jürgen Rudloff, the owner of a number of “Paradise” brothels across Germany, and his head of marketing, Michaël Beretin, who was also sentenced to 3 years and 3 months without parole, are regulars on televised talk shows and realty television programs (such as Bordell SOS and Puff my Pimp). Will their arrests, which were announced on the 28th of February, finally incite Germany to challenge their current regulatory approach towards prostitution?

 

Germany, a regulatory approach and the “brothel of Europe”

In 2002, Germany passed a law that, under the guise of increasing the rights of prostituted persons and fighting against mafia networks, regulated prostitution. Thus, prostitution became a job in its own right; managers of brothels are considered businessmen, while prostituted people are “sex workers.”

Since [the passage of the law], there have never been so many investments in this industry,” said Jürgen Rudloff in September of 2017. The law allowed for the creation of FKKs (Freie Körper Kultur). These FKKs are large-scale, luxurious brothels which, under the guise of promoting “well-being” and naturism, offer their visitors diverse services: catered food, swimming facilities, saunas, as well as access to prostituted people. Among the most well-known of these establishments are Berlin’s “Artemis,” the “Paradise” chain found in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Saarbrucken, etc., and “Pascha,” another chain found in Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart and more.

Essentially supermarkets for sex, the “Paradise” establishments attract around 300 sex buyers each day, each of whom pay an entrance fee of 79 euros. With this fee, they are able to consume food, beverages, sex at their will…

Paradise for men, hell for women

Between 60 and 90 young prostituted women, mostly of Eastern European origins, are placed at the disposition of the sex buyers. In these temples of commercialization of the human body, these women are treated as objects. They walk around the facilities nearly nude amongst men dressed in bathrobes.

The women must also pay the same entrance fee as the sex buyers, to which taxes, the possibility to rent a room (most often a bed in a shared dormitory) for women who don’t have a permanent residence, and other various fees, such as those for cleaning and laundry, are added. To settle their debt to the property owner, prostituted people must have relations with at least 4 sex buyers throughout the day.

The trial of Jürgen Rudloff further allowed authorities to have proof of other criminal activities, including:

- The severity of criminal activity: Rudloff confessed to the involvement of criminal gangs, particularly Hell’s Angels and United Tribuns, in the daily functioning of Paradise establishments. They were mostly involved in the recruitment of victims.

- The omnipresence of violence: Multiple prostituted people claimed that they were forced, exploited and beaten by their procurers. Those who wished to leave the establishment were subjected to threats and violence, and some had the names of their procurers tattooed on their bodies. Rudloff told judges that he was aware of this violence, and chose to turn the other way.

A historic decision

The February 27th judgment is a historical landmark. It follows the sentencing of Hermann Müller, the owner of the “Pascha” chain in Munich and Cologne: Müller was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months in prison for tax evasion in September of 2017.

The decision marks the downfall of a myth that once seemed untouchable: that of a possible entrepreneurial model, one which is economically successful, yet places the value of economic gain over the dignity of women.

From now on, Germany can no longer ignore that reality of violence and criminal activity that is present behind the illusion of a so-called “clean” and “regulated” prostitution industry. The country is still far from abolishing the 2002 law, however a fundamental step has just been taken.

>> More informations :

- « Prostitution en Allemagne – Hors de contrôle », entretien avec Manfred Paulus, ancien commissaire divisionnaire de la brigade criminelle d’Ulm https://infos.fondationscelles.org/dossier-du-mois/prostitution-en-allemagne-hors-de-controle-n29

- T. Madelin, « Jürgen, le roi des maisons closes en Allemagne », Les Echos, 21 septembre 2017.

Article from: https://www.fondationscelles.org/en/news?view=article&id=264