Romania Beats Russia as Main Exporter of Europe's Prostitutes

Hooked on heroin and with a small child to support, Ana-Marie became part of an exodus of desperate women from Romania that led the country to be named as Europe’s main exporter of prostitutes, The Times of London reported Saturday.

Ana-Marie, 32, was persuaded by a client to follow him to Paris, where she worked in bars and clubs earning more in a month than she would in a year on the streets of Bucharest.

Cases such as hers caused an acrimonious debate in Romania over a grim side-effect of the former communist country’s entry into the European Union (EU) and the start of visa-free travel in 2007.

A survey by Tempep, an EU-funded network of sex industry health agencies, found that one in eight foreign prostitutes in Europe was Romanian, replacing Russians as the main exporter in 2006.

Speaking from Bucharest, where she recently returned, Ana-Marie said: "The fine for prostitution in Romania is €120 (US$170) and I would get one almost every night standing on the street.

"I had no chance of paying the fines and paying the rent and feeding my child. I would have ended up in prison.

"In France I can get free condoms and methadone. I can also complain to the police if something happens, instead of being harassed by them."

The report assessed that about two-fifths of Britain’s estimated 80,000 prostitutes were migrants, most commonly from Lithuania, Thailand and Poland. The proportion of foreign prostitutes was highest in London at 70 to 80 percent.

Few British women worked as prostitutes abroad, about 5 percent, with the most common destinations given as Spain, Ireland and Australia.

Click here to read the full report at Times Online