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Ban on red light areas in Vienna in force for a year now

One year after a clampdown on street prostitution in Vienna there are still relatively few areas where street prostitution is legal and no further zones have been legalised.

"The more we succeed in pulling prostitution out of this social grey area, the better that the women involved will be protected from exploitation, violence and abuse", said Women's City Councillor Sandra Frauenberger (SPÖ), adding. "The passing of a new law alone does not suffice – it must be accompanied by various other changes."

At the centre of the law was the ban on street prostitution in residential areas. In this respect the situation is now much improved, however there still are not enough safe areas for street prostitution to dissuade women from working in illegal brothels. Legal areas for street prostitution can be found near the Prater and Auhof regions of Vienna – more areas than there were before.

Since one year ago, no further zones have been legalised. Requests to have permitted zones in built up areas have been rejected. Hebein has criticised that the reaction from many districts is "Not on my doorstep!", but Frauenberger has not ruled out the possibility that new zones will be added in future. She reproved the districts' democratic right of co-determination.

Police have taken action against prostitution on Felberstraße, an area in Vienna between Westbahnhof and Outer Mariahilferstraße, and also in the Stuwerviertel. According to Austrian  newspaper Kurier there were a total of 1,784 reports of illegal prostitution involving multiple women. 3,039 prostitutes were discovered in residential areas. There were also 206 incidents involving illegal punting and around 500 on-the-spot fines issued.

"Not all problems are solved by making new laws, but new laws do give more clarity to a situation: this provides safety for the legal regulation rather than chaos in protected zones", said Frauenberger. Now is a transitional period for brothels. Less than 30 Viennese brothels currently have a permit for meeting the requirements set out in the new rules for local prostitution. 250 further brothels have applied for this permit, though it is estimated that there are over 450 such establishments and that this number is set to rise.

There are currently 2,800 registered sex workers in Vienna – 400 more than one year ago.

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