BRUSSELS - As of Wednesday (9 June 2021), the rules for sex work are normalising. After months of vacancy, activity in the zones of tolerance for window prostitution is getting back on track. In the past, sex workers and bar owners have been much investigated, but the property owners are a blind spot. Who are those men and women who buy premises to install display windows where sex workers attract customers? Which companies specialise in real estate for the sex industry and do they have links to foreign countries?

Apache went looking for the owners behind the real estate in the window prostitution zones of Ghent, Antwerp and Schaarbeek and saw three different dynamics. Readers discover that in Antwerp, since the turn of the century, companies have been systematically buying up private properties. In Ghent, one local project developer owns one third of the premises. Finally, the windows in the Aarschotstraat in Brussels North appear to be largely in the hands of a series of unusual private individuals. The three-part online series 'Prostitutiepanden' is based on land registry research, supplemented by studies and conversations with experts and an owner.

Photo: (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Tijl Vereenooghe (Flickr))

Team members

Steven Vanden Bussche

Steven Vanden Bussche (1979) is an investigative journalist at Apache.

Steven Vanden Bussche
€ 4.000 allocated on 07/08/2018.

ONLINE (in Dutch)

Prostitutiepanden, Apache, 09/06/2021.

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