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Along the busy E highway that heads into nearby Germany, travelers encounter what has become Central Europe's largest sex bazaar: Pairs of women in varying stages of undress slowly gyrate in the windows of specially built storefronts, while out on the street, dozens more endure winter temperatures in ultra-miniskirts and low-cut blouses.
Just after the revolution, when the borders opened, the problem of these girls really took off. Maybe it existed before, but it wasn't as visible as it is today. In the eight years since Prague's communist regime fell, prostitution has burgeoned in the Czech Republic. Hundreds of brothels have sprung up on the Czech border with Germany and to a lesser extent with Austria.
These cater to "sex tourists. Although there are no reliable figures on the number of prostitutes working in the Czech Republic, estimates range from 5, to 20,, with many of the women originating from poorer countries farther east.
Nowhere is the problem more visible than in Dubi. The town was once known for its porcelain and mineral springs; today it has more than three dozen brothels. The main street, a strip of once-dilapidated buildings along the highway climbing to the German border at the top of a hill, is lined with spruced-up bars and clubs with names such as Love Story, Libido Club and Striptease. More than 1, suspected prostitutes wereapprehended by police last year in Dubi,which has a population of 7, In the afternoon and evening hours, scores of cars with German license plates cruise the streets with stereos blaring, the men behind the wheels ogling the women and stopping occasionally to negotiate a price.
It deforms them. It changes their relation to sexuality," said Police Chief Jan Ryska. A few miles away, at the orphanage in Teplice, some of the more tragic fruits of the women's trade are on display, albeit less publicly: Their abandoned children lie in cribs and cradles awaiting adoption, with a new baby arriving on average about once a week. While the children's fate is better than it was a few years ago when political problems delayed for years adoptions of the many children born to foreigners, they still must wait two months until the mother signs papers giving up claim to the child or six months if the mother fails to return.