Mayors of two Czech towns situated near the German border have joined the country's politicians in refuting a UNICEF claim that child prostitution is rampant in the border areas. The mayor of Cheb Vaclav Jakl told journalists that the problem of child prostitution in his region did not exceed the number of cases found elsewhere, not only in the Czech Republic but across Europe. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has sharply denied the UNICEF claim, saying that investigators had found no evidence of child prostitution this month during the country's largest ever police raid on brothels. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla told the CTK press agency that the UNICEF report was "unrealistic".
The Czech Republic has in recent years gained some notoriety as a centre of cheap prostitution. If that reputation was not bad enough, a new report from the United Nations children's organisation, UNICEF, says the Czech-German border region is rife with child prostitution. The area, says the report, is a haven for German paedophiles, with Czech children often being pimped by members of their own family. For their part, the Czech police say they have no evidence that child prostitution exists, and Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has described the
Since 1995 Laszlo Sumegh has been working as a streetworker to help young boys who have found themselves drawn into prostitution in the Czech capital. He has set up the foundation "Sance", which from a tiny office just off Wenceslas Square offers the boys some basic support. He provides condoms, medical attention and often just someone to talk to. Nobody knows how many boys are involved in prostitution, but large numbers are to be seen every evening around Prague's Main Station. Some 60 boys and a handful of girls regularly visit Laszlo Sumegh's
It comes as a shock to many Czechs that some of the prostitutes who hang around the Central Railway Station in the city centre are eight, ten and twelve year olds. Child prostitution is something that the police authorities claim to be only a marginal problem, but according to street-workers who try to help these kids return to a normal life there are many more underage prostitutes than one would guess by just taking a walk through the city centre. Find out more in this week's Magazine with .