Ukraine’s sex industry bets on Euro 2012

Ukraine's sex industry is banking on pulling in clients and cash during Euro 2012 but campaigners paint stark warnings given that the championship co-host has the highest rate of HIV infection in Eastern Europe.

"Kyiv's prostitutes are preparing actively for Euro 2012," one Ukrainian sex site said, claiming that some are even studying the history of the 16 nations taking part in the tournament, plus the basics of football, to get a competitive edge.

Ukraine transformed prostitution from a crime to a misdemeanour in 2006, with fines ranging from eight to 20 euros ($A10-$A25), while pimping or running a brothel remains a criminal offence.

The ex-Soviet republic is home to between 52,000 and 83,000 sex workers, with 11,000 in the capital Kyiv alone, according to campaign group the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

In the other tournament venues, Donetsk and Kharkiv in the east, the number is put at over 3,000, and Lviv in the west, almost 2,500.

Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to flood in for Euro 2012, which kicks off on June 8 in Warsaw, capital of co-host Poland, and ends with the final in Kyiv on July 1.

Ukrainian feminist group FEMEN -- best known for its topless protests -- warns that Euro 2012 could see a rise in sex tourism and is campaigning under the slogan "Ukraine is not a brothel".

Working in a secret brothel set up in an apartment in Kyiv, 24-year-old Natasha says she hopes to get enough clients to buy a car, even though she reckons most visitors will be caught up by the football.

"All men are the same and football and beer are more important for them but they aren't going to spend the whole night drinking," she told AFP in a telephone interview.

With an influx of fans from richer West European nations, many prostitutes are set to hike their rates, said Olena Tsukerman, who runs sex-workers' rights organisation Legalife.

So-called VIP prostitutes, who speak foreign languages and currently charge between 100 and 200 euros an hour, could double or triple their fees, Tsukerman said.

However, she poured cold water on the idea of being able to rake in the cash.

"At the start, everyone's going to raise their prices and wait for the influx. But the statistics suggest it won't happen," she said, noting that many brothels in 2006 World Cup host Germany made a loss.

International HIV/AIDS Alliance spokesman Kostyantyn Pertsovski echoed that.

"The experience of European countries shows that there's no point expecting an influx of sex tourists. Foreign fans prefer to drink beer," he said.

Tsukerman noted, however, that corrupt police officers are hiking the bribes they demand to turn a blind eye to brothels.

Prostitutes speaking on condition of anonymity said the sum was around 1,000 euros ($A1,300) per phone number used by the brothel.

Fans who have sex with prostitutes will be taking an extra risk: Ukraine currently has Eastern Europe and Central Asia's highest rates of HIV infection, with sexual intercourse having overtaken injecting drug use as the main form of transmission.


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The mission of the "FEMEN" movement is to create the most favourable conditions for the young women to join up into a social group with the general idea of the mutual support and social responsibility, helping to reveal the talents of each member of the movement.

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