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Despite the bad economy, the market for sexual services is blooming

According to the latest figures, Hungarians’ spending on prostitutes continued to increase, coming in at a total of around HUF 165 billion in 2008. The Central Statistical Office’s (KSH) research revealed that the total is HUF 13 billion more than in the preceding year.

KSH stressed that the numbers are estimates, given that they only target activities that are unregistered or downright illegal. As such, the business conducted by registered sex-oriented businesses, such as online sex shops, are not included, as their turnover shows up in the official national retail aggregates.

Hungary continues to be a significant supplier of prostitutes in the European Union. According to the Amsterdam-based prevention group Tamep, one-fifth of call girls come from Romania or Bulgaria. On average, four out of every 100 hookers are born in Hungary.

The Hungarian prostitutes’ interest group MPÉE knows of 10,000 to 15,000 prostitutes working in the country. About 80% of them receive clients in their apartments and advertise their services on the internet, while the remaining 20% are looking for business on the roadsides.

There is also a considerable variety in the price range. Prostitutes strolling the streets can be had for HUF 5,000–6,000 per occasion while those working at home typically ask for HUF 10,000–20,000 for an hour. Luxury call girls can go as high as €1,000 in their tariffs for a single get-together.

But while hookers are doing fairly well, other areas of the sex industry, particularly pornography distributors, are experiencing tough times. Due to the crisis and the increasing role of the internet, spending on porno DVDs has plummeted in Hungary. Several larger companies have stopped filming and are staying on the market through distributing movies shot years ago.

Sex toys likewise represent a limited market. Even the best-doing shops conduct business with monthly turnovers of only HUF 1–2 million. (Gergő Rácz)