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Prostitution ring preys on Berlin refugees

October 25, 2017

Young refugees, including minors, have been lured into prostitution by the security guards hired to protect them. Insiders have told a German public broadcaster that the guards pay high prices for young refugees.

A young migrant with a backpack
Image: picture alliance/dpa/W. Steinberg

Security workers at Berlin's refugee accommodation centers are pushing young refugees into prostitution, public broadcaster ZDF reported on Tuesday.

Social workers, refugees and security company insiders told the German-language "Frontal 21" program that security employees were even pimping out minors as part of a prostitution ring.

The guards reportedly meet with young refugees and convince them to take up prostitution, earning a commission for each liaison. The guards targeted young, male refugees for the high prices they earned when selling their bodies.

Read more: Disappointed refugees driven to prostitution

Germany: Male refugees turning to prostitution in Berlin

"They need to be of a certain age, attractive. From 16 years and up; the younger they are, the more expensive they are," a security guard told the program.

One guard told the broadcaster he earns €€20 ($24) for each prostitution referral.

Desperate for money

The statements were corroborated by several refugees in the center. A 20-year-old male Afghan asylum seeker, whose refugee application was rejected, said a security guard approached him with an offer.

"Want to do business? Earn money," he was reportedly asked. "The security guard told me you get €€30 for sex with a woman, maybe €€40." He said he was ashamed of what he had to do, but that he had to earn money.

Read more: More than 75 percent of Europe-bound youth face exploitation

Migrant minors sexually exploited

A social worker at a refugee home in Berlin Wilmersdorf said she had been monitoring the dealings of security guards with the refugees. She told ZDF she saw a guard give money to residents. When she mentioned it to the home's residents, the prostitution and pimping was confirmed, including among minors.

Berlin's Department for Integration, Labor and Social Affairs told news outlets that the suspicion of organized prostitution in the center was being taken seriously. The ministry told Berliner Morgenpost (German language) that they could not find any evidence of the ring but would nonetheless work to stamp it out.

Read more: Number of unaccompanied refugee children reaches 'record high' says UNICEF

The ministry told outlets it would begin a joint discussion with relevant parties, educate social workers on the signs of prostitution and abuse and distribute flyers on the issue.

Increasing problem

The United Nations reported in September that more than 75 percent of youth migrants heading to Europe faced forced labor, sexual abuse, child marriage and other forms of exploitation.

Aid charities have reported a marked increase in the number of young migrants turning to prostitution in Germany. Berlin's Tiergarten park has become a hotspot for older men seeking to pay for sex with adolescent boys.

Prostitution in Germany is legal, but forced prostitution, human trafficking and minor prostitution are illegal. 

aw/cmk (dpa, AFP)