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.
“Kiev’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.
Ukraine transformed prostitution from a crime to a misdemeanour in 2006, 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 Kiev alone.
Working in a secret brothel in Kiev, 24-year-old Natasha says she hopes to get enough clients to buy a car. “All men are the same and football and beer are more important... but they aren’t going to spend the whole night drinking,” she told.
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”.