Most migrant sex workers in Europe come from Romania, a survey of prostitution has found. The former communist country, which joined the European Union in 2007, has overtaken Russia as the top country of origin for EU migrant sex workers. In 2006 the top countries of origin were Russia, Ukraine and Romania – in that order, the Tampep network reports. And in 2008, the top three were Romania, Russia and Bulgaria, which also joined the EU in 2007. Amsterdam-based Tampep, reports that about 70% of all sex workers in the older EU member states are migrants. Sex workers from Romania (12%) and Bulgaria (7%) currently make up over a fifth of all prostitutes in the EU, said the study, out today. Sex workers from Poland (4%), Hungary (4%) and Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic (on 3% each) are also a growing part of the sector. The next largest groups come from Africa (12%) and Latin America and the Caribbean (11%). In the UK, the highest concentration of migrant sex workers is in London – 80%.
The figures come from a recent report by Tampep – the European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers. EU – funded Tampep collects data from welfare groups and public health bodies that monitor and help prostitutes in an effort to curb the spread of HIV/Aids and other sexually-transmitted diseases. “The most significant factor seems to be the enlargement of the EU, as people from the new EU countries no longer require visas to be able to travel within its borders, while stricter conditions for getting visas apply to non-EU citizens," the Tampep report says. "The extremely high level of migration flow from central and eastern Europe, almost 70 percent, is testament to the great economic and social inequalities that prompt this movement."
Poverty-stricken ethnic minorities often do the most dangerous kind of work, the report found. In Romania, more than half of all street prostitutes are Roma. In the Baltic states, the same is true of ethnic Russians. There were also striking differences in the EU sex industry across the east/west divide.
In most western countries, such as Denmark (65%), Finland (69%), Germany (65%), Greece (73%), Italy (90%), Spain (90%), Austria (78%), Belgium (60%), France (61%) and the Netherlands (60%), the vast majority of prostitutes are migrants. But in former Communist countries, such as Romania, the opposite is true, with, where for example 98% of sex workers in Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, come from that country.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children