The German city of Bonn has introduced parking metres for prostitutes in an attempt to tax the world's oldest profession.
BONN, GERMANY (AUGUST 31, 2011) REUTERS - Prostitutes working the streets of the old West German capital Bonn now have to buy tickets from converted roadside vending machines that once dispensed tickets to the city's drivers. A night's ticket will set a prostitute back 6 euros, irrespective of the number of clients they have.
Like parking metres, the machines also tell users the times of day when a ticket is necessary: in this case between the hours of 8:15pm and 6am, Monday to Sunday.
Heike Andrey, the head of financial management of the city of Bonn, said the ticket machines would bring street prostitutes into fiscal line with their peers in registered sex establishments.
Inspectors will prowl the streets and any prostitute caught without a ticket will receive a warning for a first offence, but after that faces the possibility of a fine or a ban from practising prostitution.
"The six euros - which is the tax due per day - has to be paid at the metre, and one gets a ticket issued as a receipt," Andrey said. "That is the confirmation of the payment." She added that with many street prostitutes foreign born previous attempts to tax them had floundered on a widespread inability to comprehend a German income tax form. The machines, Bonn hopes, will provide an easy-to-understand system of taxation.
She said the the response has been good because "the women now have the chance to pay their taxes anonymously". That means not filling in forms for the tax returns.
And Andrey said it makes things much easier especially for women from abroad .
"The charter does not specify whether the person is German or foreign. All prostitutes who offer sexual acts for money have to pay the tax, it also doesn't matter whether they work on the street or in an establishment," she said.
But Juanita Henning from the association for the rights of prostitutes said that this is not the case at all. "This is not about any right, quite the opposite. It is a 'special right' that does not have any legal justification," she told Reuters. "It is all about creating new rules that the women can violate. Especially migrants who work on the streets run the risk of being extradited if they violate this rule."
This is the first time tax tickets have been sold on the streets in Germany.
The ticket machines come as the latest step in Bonn's drive to increase tax revenue from prostitution as it wrestles with financial problems. Earlier this year the city introduced a "sex tax", and it expects the levy to raise an annual revenue of 299,000 euros for the city's coffers.
Along with tickets, Bonn has also taken steps to control street prostitution following complaints from locals that their roads and gardens were being used as locations for sexual acts.
The city has banned prostitution from areas of the city, and allocated six closed-off parking places for the use of prostitutes and their clients.
Along with the location providing a certain amount of privacy, they also come with alarms a prostitute can trigger if she gets into trouble.