Sex trafficking statistics are frustratingly incomplete, but a recent report estimated the number of victims in Europe at 270,000.
The idea of the law, passed by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrat-Green coalition, was to recognise prostitution as a job like any other.
Sex workers could now enter into employment contracts, sue for payment and register for health insurance, pension plans and other benefits.
It’s modelled on the Stuttgart flagship, which he invites us to visit on a day blighted by icy, spitty rain. Several are clustered together, looking bored in their black glitter basques and hot pink fishnets, waiting for it to get busier.
Each of its six floors is picked out with a thick stripe of burgundy cladding making it look from the outside like a very tall, stale slice of red velvet cake. People think Amsterdam is the prostitution capital of Europe but Germany has more prostitutes per capita than any other country in the continent, more even than Thailand: 400,000 at the last count, serving 1.2 million men every day.
Given that at least 70 per cent of trafficking in Europe is into forced prostitution, a lot of people are arguing that the best way to reduce demand for trafficking is to reduce demand for prostitution.
And one way to do that is to criminalise the buyer.
Exploiting prostitutes was still criminal but everything else was now above board.
Two female politicians and a Berlin madam were pictured clinking their champagne glasses in celebration. “Nobody employs prostitutes in Germany,” says Beretin.
A few days later, on Monday, a cross-party report in Britain also recommended the model.