Austria belongs to one of those countries in Europe where sex work is legal and regulated by law. Although the law legalizes prostitution, this is further amended by each province resulting in regulations that differ across Austria. In Vienna the brothels, sex clubs, sauna clubs and the street prostitution is legal and regulated by guidelines and policy (Viennese Prostitution law 2011). It is important to highlight that there is insufficient research regarding the working conditions of street sex workers in Vienna.
Since 2011 a new law prohibits street prostitution in the residential area of Vienna. Sex workers have been relocated to remote and sparsely inhabited areas such as Prater and Auhof. The latter one is even classified as “too dangerous” by the police. This law which was petitioned by two citizens’ initiatives in the Felberstrasse and in the Stuwerviertel satisfied the people living in residential area but has worsened the working conditions of sex workers and reinforced their dependency and control by third parties.
With the fall of the “iron curtain” and the EU-Enlargement (2004 and 2007) the sociology of sex workers in Austria, particularly in Vienna, became more differentiated: I. e. there is more variety in the type of prostitution. Many women from Central and Eastern Europe have migrated to Austria with the desire to find better jobs. However, the restrictive policy in regard to visa and work permits necessitated the majority of them having to earn their livelihood in the sex industry. Consequently, the EU enlargement opened a new opportunity for traffickers within its borders (Ministry of the Interior of Austria, UNODC, LEFÖ). However, more studies are needed to support that conclusion.