TALLINN - A major study of prostitution in Estonia has found that many Estonians are tolerant of brothels and that one in seven women have been approached to work as a prostitute. The poll, conducted by the Open Society Institute, revealed that, compared with a similar study two years ago, more men and women have grown tolerant of brothels despite a fear that prostitutes are spreading the HIV virus. Results showed that 63 percent of men and 36 percent of women feel brothels are necessary, which compares with 60 and 42 percent in the former poll.
Slightly fewer women than men accepted brothels as part of society, though among women aged 15 's 39 the need was particularly high. Fifty-three percent of this group stressed the need for male prostitutes as well.
At the same time, the number of opponents of prostitution had significantly increased 's by 6 percent among men and by 13 percent among women, to respectively 24 and 43 percent of the total number of respondents.
Ivi Proos, head of the Open Society Institute, said such a trend showed that the people's awareness about prostitution had changed a great deal. Although the general opinion of prostitution was "passively favorable," results of other surveys clearly show that fear dominates among the public, especially when they consider how this shadow economy could affect them.
Some 76 percent of men and 82 percent of women believe that prostitution heightens a risk of HIV infection.
Only 28 percent of respondents said they wouldn't have anything against their child going to school together with a prostitute's daughter or son. Only 25 percent said they would have nothing against working with an ex-prostitute and only 22 percent would like to have a regular brothel client for a colleague.
Proos said that the simultaneously tolerant and disapproving attitude to brothels showed that prostitution was increasingly regarded as an another branch of the economy, which brings tourists to the country and thus fuels economic growth.
At the same time, the polls found that ethnic Russian women aged 15-29 are particular targets for pressure from sex trade recruiters.
One in 10 ethnic Estonian women has received similar proposals, mainly those aged 20-29.
According to different opinions there are 2,000 to 3,000 prostitutes in Estonia, making the number of prostitutes is twice as high in the Baltic state than in Europe at large, seven times higher than in Sweden and three times than Finland or Norway.