Austrian brothels fraudulently received million-dollar subsidies from the state – Rossiyskaya Gazeta

To get money from the budget, prostitution entrepreneurs used a simple trick: they simply changed the type of activity in their applications to something more decent. Most presented themselves as bars or restaurants, and some said they were involved in property management, such as leasing premises. Someone wrote almost honestly that they provide entertainment and recreation services to the population. But the company that owns several brothels in Graz stood out especially by declaring that it was actually a financial services provider.

As a result, brothels received tens of times more money from the state than ordinary businesses. One brothel operator received an average of more than 400 thousand euros in coronavirus financial aid, while nationwide this figure was 35 thousand euros and half of Austrian companies received less than seven thousand.

All this has now become clear, as a result of an investigation carried out by the publications Standart, Zackzack and Krone. Journalists note that the employees of the agency that distributed the subsidies were not embarrassed even by the names of the companies that directly included the word “brothel”, and almost all applications submitted by the brothels were approved. However, as Zackzack writes, the agency itself, in fact, gave a hint to the brothels, indicating in the rules for receiving subsidies that an entrepreneur can operate in several areas and receive help in one of them.

From a formal point of view, prostitution in Austria is not much different from ordinary business: it is legal and since 2012 it is no longer officially considered an immoral activity. But society still has an ambiguous attitude towards this type of entrepreneurial activity. Therefore, apparently, brothels were removed from the lists of financial assistance recipients.

From time to time debates arise in the country on the topic of tightening the rules for brothels or even banning them altogether. Just the other day, another reason for such discussions was the provocative outdoor advertising of one of the brothels in Graz. And now Austrian politicians are demanding a reform of the law on prostitution so that the state can simply close a brothel if it “seriously violates public morality.”

But Austrian authorities do not want to completely ban the industry. The country’s government believes that the ban will not reduce the demand for sexual services, but will only drive prostitution into the shadows, which will be even worse. The Austrian Chancellor points out that it is easier for the State to control the legal market and can influence the working conditions of prostitutes, protecting them from exploitation and violence. And in the event of a ban, it will lose all its instruments of influence.

However, in neighboring Germany, where prostitution is also legal and it is estimated that there are several hundred thousand prostitutes, they believe that it is still possible to confront the phenomenon using the so-called “Scandinavian model” as a model. The former German Minister of Digitalization and now vice-president of the opposition CDU/CSU faction in the Bundestag, Dorothea Behr, recently proposed punishing not the providers, but the buyers of sexual services. “In this way we will de facto ban prostitution without affecting women,” says Behr, pointing out that Germany has already become the “brothel of Europe”, attracting sex tourists from all over the world. And, according to the politician, something needs to be done about it.

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