According to the latest news, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) wants to implement a new law that will prohibit refugees from working as sex workers. Currently 256 refugees are working as sex workers in Vienna. Sex work still falls into the so-called „free trade” category when it comes to legal work.
This means that the individual doesn’t need a trade license in order to start working. When it comes to selling products or services, there is only a limited number of jobs a refugee is allowed to pursue. Now the FPÖ doesn’t want sex work to be one of them.
The party leader Herbert Kickl is strongly against sexual exploitation and human trafficking. This is the reason why this regulation has to be implemented in his opinion. The number of refugees coming from Nigeria and China is quite high and they are seeking sex working opportunities.
The number of registered sex workers in Vienna is around 1700 right now. It is easy to keep track of this number because all of them have to go through medical examinations. According to Wolfgang Langer,the chief of the Registry Office for Prostitution Issues at the Vienna Police Department, the 256 refugees we mentioned before are all from Nigeria and China.
In Vienna, there are currently 216 sex workers from China and 40 from Nigeria. He also stated that the number of refugees looking for sex work from these countries is on the decline. Langer insists on the ban despite the sharp decline. On the other hand, it is hard to find the correlation between these sex workers and human traffickers.
The Numbers are Not Clear
We have only mentioned the documented sex workers so far, but how many of them are working illegally in Vienna? It is hard to tell, but there are some pretty good estimates. According to Langer, we can say that there are 300 to 400 illegal prostitutes working in Vienna as we speak.
There is an association called Sophie that gives advice for women looking for sex working jobs. However, they can’t do much once these girls start to work at illegal brothels. “We can only keep contact with them as long as they work legally.”, says Eva van Rahden, director of Sophie.
In her opinion, human trafficking is not in a causal relationship with refugees looking for sex jobs in Vienna. There are many other countries that have human trafficking issues and most of the time they are not migrating potential prostitutes.
It has been measured that refugees pursue jobs in the Vienna paysex scene only for three months on average. Eva van Rahden says this can’t be true because the experience gained during counseling practice says otherwise. Women who seek counseling usually do so for much longer periods.
It is encouraging for them to discover more opportunities and gets them motivated to start working, even if it is sex work.
Making the Difficult Life of Woman Refugees Easier
All women are welcome in the Sophie counseling center who are in a difficult situation. Whether they have difficulty in dealing with debts, health problems or any childcare related matter, they can help them to solve these problems, says van Rahden.
Women often go to Austria because they have no other choice. They are in a poor financial situation which forces them to try their luck there and start working in brothels hoping to make money fast. Most of these women will eventually want to go home as well, which is another case when they can ask for help.
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