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In Antwerp, the European brothel of the future

 
 
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 02:23 am
Quote:
Passports and panic buttons in the brothel of the future

By Stephen Castle in Antwerp
Published: 23 September 2006

Tapping his fingers on a biometric keypad, George Vos opens the door to his workplace, ushering his visitors up the stairs into a darkened room of scarlet bedding and golden-embroidered cushions, of multi-coloured sex toys and, in the corner, a large, black cage.

It is far from an ordinary office, but Mr Vos is no ordinary man. A one-time transvestite prostitute turned entrepreneur, he is now the manager of Villa Tinto, the designer-finished, state of the art, super-brothel in the centre of Antwerp's red-light district intended to revolutionise the image of prostitution in Belgium.

The business, set up by a well-known Belgian businessman, Franky De Coninck, is ground-breaking in its design and in the ideas behind it. Not only was the building designed by the architect Arne Quinze - who has advised Brad Pitt on his interior d├ęcor - but it also has a host of features aimed at making life safer for prostitutes and clients.

Opposite the brothel entrance, in the Schipperskwartier dock area is a police station. Each room in the brothel has panic buttons in case clients turn violent. A doctor is just around the corner and, because of the biometric keypad, there is no sub-letting of any of the 51 rooms to unauthorised prostitutes.

No one here is a victim of people-traffickers and only women with EU passports can work from Villa Tinto.

"It's safer, it's more open," said. Mr Vos. "There is no exploitation because the girls are free to come and work when they want. Everything is controlled."

Yet the creation of such brothels has polarised the debate in Europe over how to deal with prostitution: should it be gentrified or should those who seek to buy sex be criminalised? In Paris, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe discussed the continent's different approaches to the sex trade. Women's groups have stepped up their opposition to new experiments in tolerance.

But in Antwerp itself, Villa Tinto is deemed such a success that it features in the political campaign for forthcoming municipal elections. For several centuries, prostitution has been centred in the port district of Antwerp but, over the past few years, it has been concentrated into just three streets.

Outside Villa Tinto, the Socialist Mayor of Antwerp, Patrick Janssens, is trailed by television camera crews as he extols the virtues of a policy which, he says, has revived large chunks of the city. "We have concentrated prostitution into three streets and that means we can put in place tough criteria," he explains. "Most of these people are working in extremely good conditions. It was not like this five years ago. Now we have been able to create a situation where women are more independent, they are safe to the extent that the individual prostitute has to provide her fingerprint when she rents the room."

Antwerp is increasingly a model for Belgian cities and, potentially, for others in Europe. Delegations have visited from Brussels, Charleroi and Liege. Villa Tinto is trying to open another brothel in Barcelona.

Mr Janssens says that five years ago he would not have felt safe walking these streets. Now he recommends a tour of the three streets to out-of-town visitors.

With its designer credentials and reputation as a super-brothel, Villa Tinto attracts a mix of tourists and punters from across the social spectrum. Mr Vos said: "It has all types of clients, ranging from 'the normal guy working in the street' to lawyers and doctors."

But Mary McPhail, secretary general of the European Women's Lobby, believes all those seeking to use prostitutes should be treated as criminals. She said: "If such a showcase of elite brothels [like Villa Tinto] did emerge it would be no more than a front for what most people experience, which is intimidation and violence. We believe it is a criminal activity for one person to seek to buy access to another's body through prostitution."
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 19,196 • Replies: 24
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Mathos
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 02:47 pm
Legalising prostitution would probably reduce sexually motivated crime against women in general.

Legal or not, it is an activity which will never disappear. Well built and run brothels would mean far safer working conditions for the girls employed, it would cut down on the spread of STD and add to The Chancellors coiffeurs.


Plus the script writers for Coronation Street and other such trashy programmes would have more varied scenarios to get their teeth into.
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 03:04 pm
Mathos suggests:

Quote:
Legalising prostitution would probably reduce sexually motivated crime against women in general.



Rape is not motivated by sex. Rape is a crime of violence.
0 Replies
 
Mathos
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 03:12 pm
I cannot argue with the violence shown in cases of rape.


It would appear that the desire for sex is the initial factor though Noddy, and violence is the rapists manner of ensuring his dominance over the victim.

Consequently, if the offender was able to obtain sex by payment, the crime of violence may be non existent.


I have no stats on the crime or of associated crime of this nature
committed were brothels are available. My thoughts induce me to believe that women including the women who are prostitutes would be safer in general with legalised, well managed, medically advised facilities.
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 03:18 pm
Mathos--

At one time I did considerable work with a Rape Crisis Center. Rape is a crime of violence, humiliation and domination.

The only crime with a truly sexual component is arson.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 03:19 pm
And neither would you get more varied scenarios if you set Coronation St in a brothel because what goes on in there is so predictable and mechanical as to render the denizens into automata and by extension other members of society.

And if it was so attractive more and more would join the throng in preference to shopwork say and by the time everybody was at it you would be back to Coronation St.

What do you think the price would be if it was widely practiced? You could end up winning vouchers for a thousand on a game show and getting your fishing tackle out. Or hiding under a shed.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 04:30 pm
Mathos wrote:
Legalising prostitution would probably reduce sexually motivated crime against women in general.


Prostitution is legal in Belgium.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 04:57 pm
So much the worse for Belgium.

There's a difference between it going on and it being given official approval.
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 05:06 pm
if memory serves me right ( Question ) , some of the houses in the red light district in hamburg/germany were owned by the city .
i seem to recall that the magazine "quick" - no longer around ? - had quite a story. must have been a good income for the city :wink: .
hbg
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 05:19 pm
In the state of Washington, hard alcohol (anything stronger than port wine) must be purchased at a state-run store. These are the most joyless and dismal fortresses of vice this side of a methadone clinic.

State sanctioned prositution, I'm all for. But state-run prostitution sounds dismal.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Sep, 2006 05:46 pm
Once it's state sanctioned they are responsible for legal matters and under such circumstances they would naturally seek to run it.
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 08:32 am
Why? They don't run tobacco or (in most states) alcohol in the U.S. They just make a lot of money on the front and back ends.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 09:34 am
They run everything mate. Even courtship rituals.
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 12:33 pm
You must court in court.







And here I figured you'd woo in the loo.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 12:41 pm
patiodog wrote:
They just make a lot of money on the front and back ends.

Perhaps not the most subtle way to put it in the context of this thread..
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 12:43 pm
What is it with Walter and prostitution threads, anyway?




[size=8](Note to Germans: That was a joke..)[/size]
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 12:45 pm
huh huh... nimh said "put it in."

huh huh huh huh.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 12:45 pm
Dozingdog wrote-

Quote:
And here I figured you'd woo in the loo.


I did try it once but I was so disgusted with myself and suffocated with shame and remorse that I have avoided a repeat performance and will continue to do so.
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 12:47 pm
Well, prick up your ears. Another opportunity may present itself.
0 Replies
 
Mathos
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Sep, 2006 12:59 pm
He's celibate, didn't you know that?


I'd bet a tenner the oink can't prick up anything!
0 Replies
 
 

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