Prostitutes Need a Permit to Work the Night Shift

One German city has decided that it’s time for prostitutes to pay up.

Officials in Bonn are requiring prostitutes to pay 6 euros per night for a permit that allows them to work the sex trade, Der Spiegel reports.

Prostitutes can access the necessary permit from an automated ticket machine in an area frequented by streetwalkers and their customers.

The ticket machines were recently installed after enforcing a “sex tax” proved difficult. The tax was difficult to collect from those prostitutes who do not work in established brothels and sex clubs. Prostitutes, many of whom come from abroad and do not speak German, also had trouble filling out the necessary paperwork.

The new requirement will be enforced by tax officers, who plan to issue warnings to first-time sex-tax dodgers, followed by fines and ultimately a ban on working in the area, city spokeswoman Monika Frömbgen told German news agency DPA.

According to Der Spiegel, the ticket issued by the machine authorizes work between the hours of 8:15 p.m. and 6 a.m., and is the first of its kind in the country, according to officials.

Though prostitution has been legal in Germany since 2002, streetwalking is frowned upon and complaints from residents have prompted Bonn city officials to set up a special area to contain the sex business. On the outskirts of the city near the municipal waste management facilities, special wooden garages have been set up for johns to park their cars privately and legally. The area also features a guard who prostitutes can call upon in case of an emergency. But now those who want to use this area must first pay the machines.

According to the paper, sex worker association BUFAS rejected the concept, calling the flat fee unfair. "We are against such special rules, and favor the legal equality of every worker, including in matters of taxes," said Beate Leopold, who works at a BUFAS associated advocacy organization in Nuremberg called Kassandra. Income tax should be levied on a case-by-case basis, she added.

Click to read more on the prostitution permit from Der Spiegel