Prostitution in Vienna: Legal & Illegal Hookers
As stated in the article on sex in Austria, prostitution is generally legal in all but one Austrian province (Vorarlberg in the very west of the country). In Vienna, prostitution is a booming business – only cities like Amsterdam and Hamburg can rival Vienna′s reputation of a particularly sinful destination. However, unlike Amsterdam or Hamburg, the Viennese seem to be unaware of this and have failed to get rid of the dirt around their red-light mile to establish the trendy scene that attracts "normal" tourists in addition to sex seekers in Hamburg and other cities in northern Europe. Vienna′s red light district is still rather filthy and with the exception of individual venues, neither uniform in its presentation nor very appealing to the average visitor.
Regular, legal prostitution concentrates around the northern Gürtel, the Naschmarkt area, the northern third district and the second district. Since prostitution is in principal legal in Vienna, it is usually not covered as strip clubs, massage salons or escort services. Taxi drivers, hotel receptionists and even ads in daily papers will know about brothels in any area of Vienna.
In 2009, the city of Vienna announced plans to approach the problem of illegal sex workers. Issues arose mainly around hookers that work on streets, whereas those who make contact with potential clients in bars might still be illegal, but at least less of a problem for people who live in the area. The city of Vienna named five "hot spots" of streets in Vienna where hookers can be found particularly easily: Linzer Straße in the 14th district, Hütteldorfer Straße and the outer Mariahilferstraße with side-lanes in the 15th district (all three can be found not far from Westbahnhof station); but also the Struwerviertel area (known for drug addicted hookers) and the Prater area (known for African women, usually asylum seekers). The latter two areas are in the second district and the "low cost option" when it comes to hookers in Vienna.
An Ignored Tourist Attraction: Hookers & Prostitution
Tourists take great interest in Vienna′s prostitution scene. One can see this even from looking at the traffic logs of this website – the articles on prostitution in Vienna are among the most popular of TourMyCountry.com. Since the opening of Eastern Europe in the last 20-odd years, the number of business trips to and conferences in Vienna has steadily increased, resulting in a seemingly ever-growing red light scene. I remember working as a TV journalist on a story about a medical convention with some 30,000 cardiologists meeting at the Messe Wien in 2007; when I called some brothels in Vienna′s city centre, I was told that they had an increase in revenue of an impressive 30 percent.
The recent 20 years saw a rise in the number of registered, legal hookers in Vienna. As of
2008, there were 1800 women registered as prostitutes with the city of Vienna, which means that they
attend regular health checks and legal monitoring. However, police estimates give a number of 5,000 women who are thought to work as hookers in total – the
3,000-odd non-legal prostitutes working mostly on the street without a permission.
Street prostitution in generally illegal in Austria, so by going to a brothel, clients could avoid ending up with an unchecked, illegal sex worker. Often, this does not happen for financial reason – street hookers are
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