Prostitute Perks Are Par for the Course In the German Business World

Photos from the Hungarian bathhouse where German insurer Mannheimer International sponsored a corporate sex retreat

As much of the US enjoys the last part of a 3-day weekend, you may be enjoying a burger and beer, happy for the perk of days off on holidays. Perhaps you’re creative with your vacation time and decided to use an off day on Tuesday to really extend things, and that’s normally how workplace perks in the US unfold. In Germany, it’s possible you could have gotten a company sponsored companion to perk up your weekend in a completely different way.

You may have heard about the scandal surrounding a a large German insurance company who sent top performing employees on an orgy retreat. If you haven’t, “corporate orgy retreat” is kind of self-explanatory but we also had a moment of “did I hear that correctly?” when learning about the story so here’s a brief overview: in 2007 German insurer Mannheimer International paid for a spa retreat in Hungary for 100 of their top performers. The guys weren’t there for mani/pedis though; 20 pre-paid prostitutes were brought in to… entertain the men. The prostitutes had color coded bracelets signifying who could request their services (certain women were restricted to top execs), and received stamps for each man they’d serviced.

Just in case you missed the math on that, 100 men divided among 20 women equals 5 men in one night on average. Prostitution is legal in Germany, and if someone chooses to enter the world’s oldest profession that’s their prerogative, but that’s some pretty gross overtime. Not to mention, you’d think that guys who work with numbers all day would be slightly more calculating, but we digress.

The point is that while that particular outing has become something of an embarrassment since making its way into the news, such “perks” aren’t uncommon for German businesses, according to Der Spiegel.

Brothel visits at trade fairs and sex parties are seen as ways of providing (exclusively male) employees with an incentive that goes beyond the  normal pay raise or bonus. A representative from a German sex worker association posits that the red light reward trend may also be popular precisely because it would be embarrassing if made public.

“Rewards bind the interested parties and are therefore often the little connection to corruption,” she says. “If a reward in the form of prostitution is taken, then a much easier potential for personal blackmail emerges.” But the person who arranges and pays for the sexual encounter is also at risk of blackmail. {Der Spiegel}

Well, that’s one way to ensure loyalty.

We can only hope that the legality of  the events themselves help to ensure that everyone involved is a willing participant. Victims of human trafficking can often be forced into sex work, and in a field no one wants to admit they’re involved with that makes it all too easy for traffickers to continue what can be very shady, terrible treatment of women.

Bathhouse image via Handelsblatt

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