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Romanian prostitutes pose in the brothel "Pussy Club" in Schoenefeld, Germany in April. Eastern European women make up the bulk of foreign sex workers in Lebanon.
” and select the woman he wants to sit at his table. Cafes and Pastry Shop Owners.P ro s t i t u t i o n The business of sex The ins and outs of the world’s oldest profession in Lebanon L ebanon’s beaches. including the sexual services of women. The nightclubs’ owners characterize their sector as a legitimate and legal business model that presents entertainment and brings women and men together. Customers pick the woman they want to talk to by walking through the club or seeing the woman dance or perform on stage. and “families” are not allowed to enter — meaning Lebanese women cannot enter. Let’s call her Julia. The champagne has nothing to do with a bottle of alcohol: the term is merely super nightclubspeak for having one of the artists sit at a customer’s table for exactly an hour and a half. The super nightclub owners are represented by a lobbying group that includes other. The super nightclub business is regulated by the government.” Lebanese women are prohibited from working in these establishments. Champagne usually costs around $60 to $80. stiletto heels and a tight t-shirt that stopped just above her navel. She wore white denimshorts cut just below the crotch. low-cut and short-skirted costumes. Many clubs offer a “cabaret” beginning at midnight. The club may or may not take a direct role in arranging and profiting from their female employees’ illegal activity. The super nightclubs are not cheap places to grab a August 2009 59 . a 21-year-old prostitute from the Dominican Republic danced onstage at a super nightclub in the Maamaltein district of Jounieh. A “picolot” is similar “code” for having a woman sit with a customer for a half hour. In order to speak with one of the female artists. But super nightclubs also serve as a platform for prostitution outside the venue’s walls — sometimes only as far away as an adjacent hotel. with permits given by the Ministry of Tourism and oversight by General Security. How it works In mid-July. Russia. She also wore braces on her teeth. although foreign women can. where women from the Ukraine. A picolot usually includes one drink. a customer must order “champagne” or “picolot. Morocco and the Dominican Republic work as “artists. more benign sectors of the tourism industry: the Syndicate of Restaurants. nightclubs and hotels are packed this summer with visitors spending cash and enjoying all the country has to offer. One of the main outlets for such activity is the ubiquitous super nightclub business. There are around 130 licensed super nightclubs in Lebanon. Men are not allowed to speak with artists like Julia at super nightclubs unless they pay for it. where women perform dance routines to European and Arabic music and swing on polls dressed in a variety of tight. and a picolot around $30 to $35. even as customers. A customer may negotiate one or two drinks to be included in the cost of the champagne.
A S I S L I G HT P E T TI N G. the woman and man are not monitored. “Sex costs $100 for three hours. but as one of the female “artists” at a super nightclub said. like other artists in Lebanon. but beyond that. made it very clear what services she could provide beyond dancing and sitting with customers. within a week of the purchase. “many Lebanese speak Russian. no sex is permitted in the club. By law. since it could get them in trouble with General Security. be in their workplace — the super nightclub — from 8pm to 5am. This free period is when the women can meet up with their customers from the night before. A waiter brings drinks. customers have to wait until the next day. where they are not allowed to leave until their “free time. . just above the super nightclub. according to owners. Julia and her colleagues can only be taken out on “dates” during their free hours. “Talk to the manager if you want to set a date. General Security requires the “telephone number and the car’s registration card of the person accompanying” the woman be noted at the hotel’s front desk. sit down and strike up conversation. the Dominican artist. she said no. General Security and police can enter at any time and demand to see any of the artists. It’s also risky to allow a woman to leave with a customer at night. the artists must return to their hotel. But she hinted that perhaps other arrangements could be made. Few of the women speak English. At 5am. When an EXECUTIVE staff member visited a super nightclub posing as a cus60 August 2009 tomer. but anything beyond that is strictly prohibited by most clubs. where she and her colleagues live. Lebanese government regulations require that Julia. referring to the same hotel. Once the women are ordered.” When asked if it was possible to K I S S I N G I S P E R M IT TE D I N S U P E R N I G H T C LU B S . Kissing is permitted in super nightclubs.” she announced bluntly.” a customer also purchases the right to make a “date” with the woman. they arrive at the customer’s table. But with the purchase of “champagne.” which is 1pm to 8pm daily. Julia. The date is often code for sex. General Security regulates super nightclubs and.LEBANON Super nightclubs such as the one above in Lebanon’s Maameltain district are frequented by locals and tourists drink without sitting with a woman: an Almaza beer costs $11. as is light petting. “Are you staying at the hotel?” Julia asked.” Often the women immediately initiate physical contact with a customer by putting a hand or arm on the man’s leg. supposedly with her consent. B UT A N Y TH I N G B EYO N D TH AT I S STR I C TLY P R O H I B ITE D B Y M O S T C LU B S set a date that night.
” says Siranossian). where women don’t sit with customers (the “family is allowed to enter these. sipping drinks and eying the men who walk through the door. Add onto that food and gas for a date the next day. singers and a show. and the men keep coming. Charbel is intimately familiar with the business because his family owns a super nightclub. bouncers. Like many involved in the super nightclub business.000 per month. artists like Julia sit around in groups. and to fork out $100 to $200 to the woman.m. bars and super nightclubs that only feature a band. “We work in two shifts. he is also a frequent customer of many different clubs. and they come because don’t know how to build relations. including the hotel. who represents the super nightclub owners in the syndicate of restaurants. “They like the company.LEBANON There are around 130 super nightclubs in Lebanon that provide legitimate entertaiment and also facillitate illegal prostitution The business Super nightclubs come under a variety of different regulations and legal authorities. that is equal to around $23 million in profit for the minute sector per year — and that’s only the legitimate revenue.” said a Lebanese man who will be called “Charbel” for the purposes of concealing his identity. There are “two to four women per room. Before that. They mostly order women for champagne. who spoke to EXECUTIVE on condition his 62 August 2009 real name not be used — let’s call him “George” — said his club usually has between 15 and 25 women per night. and super nightclubs where the artists sit with the customer. Owners must deposit around $650 at General Security for each woman. General Security and the Internal Security Forces. and older: He estimates 80 percent of his clients are between 50 and 60 years old. The second shift is at the hotel. The vast majority of super nightclubs are of the latter category. Nightclubs pay the women anywhere from $800 to $1. electricity and insurance.. A permit for a super nightclub is a one-time cost of $1. The biggest competition between . “The first shift is at the club. the parking lot is full. A super nightclub owner.” said George.000 to $12. They can make up to $400 or $500 a month extra from the ‘bottles’ they sell. including the Ministry of Tourism. With 130 clubs in Lebanon. License plates from Syria and the Gulf stand out in a parking lot filled largely with vehicles bearing Lebanese plates. drivers and managers for the hotel.” All these expenses cost him around $40. Some are lonely. Clubs must also pay around $2. Charbel says other costs associated with running a super nightclub include bartenders. ranging from $15.500 per month for the hotel where the women live. costs between $60 to $80. 10 to 30 customers come in every evening. and $3 for every “picolot” sold to her customer. Some are shy. But in the summer. Customers rarely arrive to the super nightclubs in the Maamaltein district of Jounieh before midnight. the registration for the artists. If the man wants to have sex. Some don’t have partners. “I usually make $10. “It refreshes their memory. according to the nightclub owner. But by 3:00 a. According to Toros Siranossian. he needs to rent a hotel room.” said George.000. A woman also receives $5 for every “champagne” she is hired for. with Lebanese expatriates back home along with thousands of tourists.” said George.000 to $20. each one gets a bed. Some are divorced. depending on their ability to dance and perform.000 a month.” Few struggling college students or construction workers can afford to be a regular customer at a super nightclub. waiters. Some are married. nightclubs are licensed by the tourism ministry depending on their purpose: there are legitimate discos and nightclubs with a DJ. On average. Just talking to a woman and getting the right to take her out. he says he usually makes more.000 a month in profit. and some hotels have seven different clubs renting out the hotel rooms.200 per month. he says). The nightclub owner says most G E N E R A L S E C U R IT Y R E Q U I R E S TH E P H O N E N U M B E R AN D CA R R E G I STR ATI O N O F TH E P E R S O N A C C O M PA N Y I N G TH E ‘A RTI ST’ of his customers are Lebanese (they like blonde women.
“We are restricting movement for our own benefit. “There are thousands of agencies. “Maybe she has a boyfriend and he doesn’t have the money to go out. or how nice your chairs are. E a s t e r n E u ro p e t o L e b a n o n Club owners find women from around the globe through the use of what are called “impresarios. the clubs is for beautiful women. It’s regular practice for owners to lock the doors of the hotel between 5am and 1pm. you will end up with nothing. Both Charbel and George said it’s not unusual for a client to fall in love with one of the nightclub’s employees. When dealing with women you have to control them. super nightclub owners keep a tight leash on their “product. George said absolutely not. “They’ll tell you the picture was .” To guard their investment. George boasts that 70 of his customers have married women rope between $200 and $400 a month to find artists. Charbel says the restriction on the women’s movement is necessary. If you let them do what they want.” he said. I F YO U LET TH E M D O W H AT TH EY WA N T. “like the computer linking two people together on Internet chat rooms.” he said.LEBANON A dancer performs in a nightclub in Moscow in March 2009.” Club owners take their female employees’ passports. He’ll come and pick her up and we won’t get our $66 for champagne.” 64 August 2009 “If you don’t control everything. He said he has no control over agreements and arrangements between customers and the from his club alone.” These are the middlemen.” he said. what kind of dance she can do. George says he pays an agency based in Eastern Eu- “ W H E N D E A L I N G W I T H W O M E N Y O U H A V E TO C O N T R O L TH E M . YO U W I LL E N D U P W I T H N O T H I N G ” women at his club. saying where the girl worked. the agents who find women in their home countries and arrange for them to come to Lebanon. Charbel says the women working for his family aren’t allowed out of the hotel for more than 30 minutes during their 1pm to 8pm “free time. you will lose money.” Charbel says an owner has to be careful.” unless they have a date. Super nightclub owners say more Eastern European and Russian women are coming to Lebanon because of the global recession.” the owner said. “They send us photos and a CV by email. He sees his club as the facilitator. “The customers are coming for the ladies.” When asked if he’s essentially a pimp. “I don’t care if you have a laser show.
c o u r t b a c k l o g s . a n d v i c t i m s ’ l a c k o f k n o w l e d g e o f t h e i r r i g h t s . It’s forbidden for us to sell her — what she does is an agreement between a couple. so they can create return customers. When she completes her contract. M o s t w e re s e t t l e d o u t o f c o u r t a n d t h e v i c t i m s d e p o r t e d . P ro s t i t u t i o n o r e n t e r t a i n m e n t George and Charbel both say women in their clubs are never forced to go out with men.” he said. The super nightclub pays the visas (between $200 and $350) and medical costs.” There have been reports that women who have arrived in Lebanon from Morocco and Eastern Europe to work at super nightclubs Lebanon trafficking in persons report 2009 – from the United States Department of State Lebanon. G i v e n t h e s i g n i f i c a n t h u rd l e s t o p u r s u i n g c ri m i n a l c o m p l a i n t s i n t h e L e b a n e s e c o u r t s y s t e m . a n d i n t h e a b s e n c e o f a l t e r n a t e l e g a l re c o u r s e . p a r t i c u l a r l y a g a i n s t f o re i g n w o m e n . ra p e . Charbel says there are currently more women willing to come to Lebanon to be artists because of the financial crisis. Publication Date 16 June 2009 “ T h e G e n e ra l S e c u r i t y re p o r t e d 4 7 c o m p l a i n t s o f p h y s i c a l a b u s e . that’s dirty. then return in three months. The best way to bring nice women is to send someone to find them. despite the ubiquity of the practice. this woman signs a contract. But an increase in the number of willing artists has not brought wages down. a n d w i t h h e l d e a r n i n g s o f f o re i g n w o m e n w o r k i n g i n a d u l t c l u b s i n 2 0 0 8 – c o m p l a i n t s t h a t m a y h a v e i n v o l v e d c o n d i t i o n s o f i n v o l u n t a r y s e r v i t u d e . “We don’t force women to make relations [have sex]. T h e s e c a s e s w e re h a m p e re d b y a l a c k o f re s o u rc e s . Like Lebanon.” 66 August 2009 . d i f f i c u l t y p ro v i n g c a s e s o f re p o r t e d a b u s e .” the owner said.” “ M o re o v e r . c u l t u ra l b i a s e s .LEBANON taken one week or three months ago. “It’s an agreement between you and the woman. m a n y f o re i g n v i c t i m s o p t e d f o r q u i c k a d m i n i s t ra t i v e s e t t l e m e n t s f o l l o w e d b y m a n d a t o r y re p a t ri a t i o n .” Charbel says the women pay for their own plane ticket. t h e g o v e r n m e n t p u r s u e d p o l i c i e s a n d p ra c t i c e s t h a t s i g n i f i c a n t l y h a r m e d f o re i g n v i c t i m s o f t ra f f i c k i n g . c o r r u p t i o n . “In our system.” “In prostitution — you pay and you [have sex]. or to have sex for money. A prostitute smokes a cigarette at the "GeizHaus" brothel in the northern German town of Hamburg. Artists’ visas are granted by General Security for up to six months. when in reality it’s three years. b u re a u c ra t i c i n d i f f e re n c e a n d i n e f f i c i e n c y .000. F o r e x a m p l e . it’s her own will. which from Moscow costs between $600 and $1. The cost of the medical test is around $250. But you will accept the pictures if you’re in need of women. But Lebanon has not licensed a brothel since the 1970s. Most club owners prefer the women stay up to three months. We are providing a show. a drink and we are not pushing them to do anything. which include a periodic mandatory pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease test. the artist is required to stay outside the country for the same period she was in Lebanon. a u t h o r i t i e s re q u i re d t h a t w o m e n r e c r u i t e d f o r p ro s t i t u t i o n u n d e r i t s " a r t i s t " w o r k p e r m i t p ro g ra m b e c o n f i n e d i n h o t e l s f o r m o s t o f t h e d a y a n d s u m m a ri l y d e p o r t e d t h e m i f t h e y c o m p l a i n e d o f m i s t re a t m e n t . prositiution in Germany is legal.
Prior to his establishment becoming a super nightclub. TH E S E C O N D R EA S O N F O R TH E S EX ” their parents about which country they’re coming to. “I feel sorry for them. who rep- the last ones were issued between 1993 and 1997. and charge $100 per customer. “They know why they’re here. near Martyrs’ Square in the Zeitoun district. cabarets and super nightclubs featured real performers and artists: belly dancers. General Security gives “implicit consent” to unlicensed prostitution. the super nightclubs were once legitimate establishments during Lebanon’s “golden” years of tourism in the 1960s.LEBANON are surprised to find out the business is a cover for prostitution. EXECUTIVE asked General Security to confirm this number. “When the war finished in 1992. they’re making good money. he says it was a high-end dinner club. but the government has 68 August 2009 resents nightclubs to the syndicate. “But the war came and they all closed. A woman I know tells her family she is in Hong Kong.” he said. [the super nightclubs] wanted to reopen. The women lie to not issued a license for a legal “brothel” since the beginning of the civil war in 1975. and to provide the number of artists visas granted in 2008 and so far in 2009.” numbered 4. The woman brings the customers. so he rented the space to a man who wanted to open a super nightclub. says the nightclub owner. but not now. So they were obliged to open [in their current form]. But business dropped off and he needed money. The trafficking report is the only concrete figure for the number of artists’ visas issued in recent years found for this article. So they couldn’t open in a clean way and bring artists without [the artists sitting at the table with customers]. the second reason for the sex. famously featured in the film “West “ T H E F I R S T R E A S O N T H E Y C O M E TO L E B A N O N I S F O R T H E M O N EY. they’re making $300 a day on top of their salary. Although prostitution is illegal without a license. Charbel acknowledges the women who come to Lebanon to sell their bodies must have come from terribly desperate conditions in their home countries. because they will lose money. A super nightclub in Beirut’s Hamra district long known for its red light bars and clubs Illegal but condoned It is not widely known that prostitution is actually legal in Lebanon (see Lebanese Law of 2/6/1931). Back then.” All the brothels were destroyed during the fighting.” he said. At that time.” Licenses for super nightclubs existed before and during the war. we get the champagne money and they get their money. “At the good super nightclubs woman will take $200 for sex. adding that he has sex regularly with several women from super nightclubs. Super nightclubs have filled the void left by the brothels.” Siranossian said.” Betraying some of the national stereotypes super nightclub owners associate with their employees. but The trafficking report says that in 2006 the number of visas issued by the Lebanese government to “mostly eastern European women to work in adult clubs as artists. But there was no business. all licensed brothels were located in downtown Beirut.210. but officers were unable to provide the statistics by the time the magazine went to print. “People know what coming to Lebanon means. Beirut. They were born with a hunger for sex. Charbel adds that Eastern European women “love sex. but he says business is business. The General Security headquarters contains an entire artists “section. which he renovated for $1 million in the 1990s.” The .” he said. They have good hearts.” “The first reason they come to Lebanon is for the money. Lebanese General Security commits a significant amount of manpower to regulating the industry. But Charbel says that in the past this used to happen. “But it’s like a circle. According to Siranossian. according to the United States Department of State’s 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report. If they spend two hours with three customers during their free time. singers and musicians. to a degree.” Charbel says women will not have sex with a customer for under $100.” Super nightclub owners are quick to point out that although the women may be selling themselves. They enjoy it.
D a r A l A m a l w o r k s w i t h a ro u n d 6 0 w o m e n f ro m t h re e d i f f e re n t c e n t e r s a ro u n d L e b a n o n . held against their will or forced to do anything they don’t want to do. and did not respond to requests for information or an interview about the subject.” The report said if women complain about their conditions. “ We a re w o r k i n g w i t h w o m e n f ro m d i s l o c a t e d f a m i l i e s .” 70 August 2009 guidelines for “artists” in Lebanon can be read in English and Arabic on General Security’s website. w h o n e e d m o n e y . i n t h e t ra d i t i o n a l s e n s e o f t h e w o rd . But according to news reports and people familiar with the booklet and the regulations. i t ’ s v e r y e a s y t o t a k e t h e m t o t h i s ro o m . the booklet details the rules an artist must follow while in Lebanon. T h e y h a v e b e e n a b u s e d . m i s t re a t e d a n d v i o l a t e d . “Most of the women entered the country knowing that they would be working in adult clubs. raped. with a “Mom” running a number of women in the “bar” who service men on a walk-in basis. an organization that works to improve the lives of prostitues Street level sex industry Despite its seediness.” the 2009 trafficking report said. but basically “bar” means b ro t h e l . d i re c t o r o f D a r A l A m a l . s h e c h a rg e d $ 2 0 t o $ 3 0 f o r o n e o r t w o h o u r s o f s e x .” Most of the cases. I f a f o re i g n p ro s t i t u t e i s c a u g h t in Lebanon.” I t ’ s a s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n i n t h e P a l e s t i n i a n c a m p s . s a i d t h e w o m e n a re m o s t l y E g y p t i a n s . Super nightclub owners say the accusations of human trafficking are unfounded. T h e y a re a l s o l i c e n s e d i n a similarly complicated fashion as the super nightclubs. If a Lebanese woman is caught with a client in L e b a n o n . Sy ri a n s a n d S u d a n e s e n a t i o n a l s . . p ro s t i t u t i o n a t a l l l e v e l s o f s o c i e t y i s a “ v e r y big business” in Lebanon. “ B e c a u s e o f t h e t o u ri s m h e re … t h e re i s d e m a n d . f o r t h e s e w o m e n w h o a re v e r y p o o r . o r o u t o f a h o t e l o r re n t e d a p a r t m e n t .” Those were complaints that “may have involved conditions of involuntary servitude. w h o a re n o t s u p p o r t e d [ a n d ] b e c a u s e t h e y d o n ’ t h a v e a n y o t h e r s o l u t i o n . A n e c e ssary state of seediness? Given Lebanon’s other overriding problems. T h e re d l i g h t b a r s m a i n l y o p e ra t e i n H a m ra . and withheld earnings of foreign women working in adult clubs in 2008. N e w s re p o r t s h a v e d o c u m e n t e d h o w t h e system works. 0 0 0 L e b a n e s e l i ra . The artists are handed a booklet upon arrival at General Security. ” s a i d t h e H o d a K a ra . a c c o rd i n g t o t h o s e f a m i l i a r w i t h t h e b u s i n e s s . w h o w e re i n o r p h a n a g e s . e x p l o i t e d . a b o u t $ 2 . “A n d w h e n t h e re i s d e m a n d . A s a p ro s t i t u t e . they are “summarily deported. o r [ w o r k e d a s ] d o m e s t i c l a b o re r s i n h o u s e s . S h e g o t o u t o f p ro s t i t u t i o n t h a n k s t o D a r A l A m a l . T h e s e w o m e n s e l l t h e i r b o d i e s f o r a n y w h e re f ro m $ 2 t o $ 3 0 d o l l a r s f o r s e x . General Security declined to provide a copy of the booklet to EXECUTIVE’s staff. and didn’t want their name used in this story. outlining their rights and responsibilities. A re p o r t i n A l A k h b a r s a i d w o m e n i n t h e S a b ra c a m p c h a rg e b e t w e e n $ 6 t o $ 2 0 f o r s e x w h i l e f e l l a t i o c o s t s a s l i t t l e a s 3 . “were settled out of court and the victims deported. o n e o f t h e f e w o rg a n i z a t i o n s i n L e b a n o n w o r k i n g w i t h p ro s t i t u t e s . she will be deported. it’s not surprising there would be loopholes and problems with the regulatory system of super nightclubs. “So when the customer likes o n e o f t h e m .” General Security and the Ministry of Justice were unable to provide the number of complaints by artists in 2007 and 2008. ” s a i d a s o u rc e w h o w o r k s w i t h p ro s titutes.w i n n i n g i n v e s t i g a t i v e re p o r t i n A n N a h a r n e w s p a p e r o n N o v e m b e r 2 7. K a ra s a y s t h a t e s p e c i a l l y a t t h i s t i m e . t h e re i s s u p p l y . rape. O n e f o r m e r L e b a n e s e p ro s t i t u t e w h o s p o k e w i t h EXECUTIVE s a i d s h e s t a r t e d s e l l i n g h e r b o d y o n t h e s t re e t s o f t h e M a a m a l t e i n d i s t r i c t a f t e r s h e ra n a w a y f ro m h o m e a t t h e a g e o f 1 8 . Even the US State Department acknowledged that few women arriving in Lebanon to work in super nightclubs are unaware of what the job involves. The booklet also contains an emergency phone number to call if the women are physically attacked. T h e m a n w i l l b e re l e a s e d . “ T h e y h a v e s m a l l s e c re t ro o m s i n t h e b a c k . T h e y a l s o h a v e a p re s e n c e i n a l l t h e w o m e n ’ s p r i s o n s . T h e n t h e re a re L e b a n e s e w o m e n w h o s e l l s e x o n t h e s t re e t s .l e v e l a n d r e d l i g h t b a r p ro s t i t u t e s . D a r A l A m a l ’ s K a ra a l s o s a y s t h e l a w i s u n f a i r t o L e b a n e s e w o m e n c a u g h t w o r k i n g i n p ro s t i t u t i o n . t ra n s p a re n t a n d w e l l re g u l a t e d i n d u s t r y c o m p a re d t o t h e p l i g h t o f s t re e t . ” s h e s a i d . “ We a re w o r k i n g w i t h t h e p o o re s t o f t h e p o o r . s h e w i l l b e a r re s t e d a n d p u t i n j a i l . The 2009 US Trafficking in Person’s report said General Security reported “47 complaints of physical abuse. w i t h o r w i t h o u t t h e g u i d a n c e o f a p i m p .LEBANON The entrance to Dar Al Amal in Sin el Fil. the world of super nightclubs does appear to be a clean. s h e s a y s .” A n a w a rd . the report says. 2 00 8 . S h e ra n a w a y b e c a u s e h e r f a t h e r u s e d t o ra p e a n d b e a t h e r . T h e b a r s a re a b l e t o o p e ra t e b e c a u s e t h e b a r o w n e r s p a y p o l i c e t o o v e r l o o k t h e re a l n a t u re o f t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t s .
because it allows the government to regulate and oversee the industry. and they’d forget everything for one week. or switch to more legitimate nightclubs in the next few years. However. Still. Even then. paid directly to the super nightclub. some are like pizza delivery. “They’re checking to see if the woman is in the club. he expects clubs to close down. “When the police come. “But they’re putting too much pressure now.LEBANON The Cobra super nightclub in Maameltain is not shy about advertising what’s on offer Although Siranossian says he dislikes the super nightclub business that focuses on hooking men up with women. TH EY G I V E S U P E R N I G HTC LU B S A BA D R E P UTATI O N . it appears that circumventing the law is relatively easy. all day. where prostitution has no oversight. “They give super nightclubs a bad reputation. the club can be closed down for a month.” he said. Charbel verifies this. somewhat akin to the way escort services operate in the US or Europe. the employee and others familiar with the business say bribes. he justifies Lebanon’s super nightclub system by comparing it to the rest of the Arab world. the industry depends on cheap labor. super nightclubs will have a harder time surviving.” With the global recession continuing. noting that police usually stop in three or four times a week.” he said.” George said. Siranossian has represented the nightclub owners for years in the syndicate.” he said. or better forms of employment can be found in other parts of Eastern Europe. “Here in Lebanon we closed the brothels.” $300 for the woman. they can do what they want to do. or if the owner sells the woman from the club… there are so many problems.” Siranossian calls the super nightclubs a “fantastic” solution to the problem of prostitution. The most important thing is that the owner of the super nightclub doesn’t sell the woman. and has sometimes been the industry’s envoy to General Security.” said one person familiar with the business. “Some places are like a bordello. he would be at the General Security every day. “There are many problems. so now customers go to super nightclub[s] where they can take a woman out the next afternoon. “If the [super nightclub] took this permission and they pay money. “If the woman comes back late to the hotel.” But the nightclubs do appear to get into a lot of trouble with the police. The average price would be ulate the super nightclubs hard to enforce all the time. “Anyone who opens a super nightclub. The minute the price goes up. The women can be deported. and hasn’t gone out with a customer. for sure if he doesn’t have support at a high level. two weeks. “This is nothing. She charges her own amount on the side.” he said.” Customers pay much more than usual if the woman goes out with them during nightclub hours. Charbel on the other hand says he’s actually looking to open his own super nightclub somewhere north of Beirut. Charbel says. . Siranossian says only 10 of the clubs pay their dues to the syndicate. They refuse to take the money. we’d pay a lot of money.” But it’s a risky business to break the law. and connections to powerful politicians. “There are too many expenses.” Siranossian says if the syndicate just took care of super nightclub problems. He says it’s “easy money” but it goes too quickly.” he said. it’s not easy for him. it seems likely the wages required to bring young women to Lebanon will remain steady. law enforcement has often looked the other way if enough money is offered. If the police won’t take bribes and the nightclub owner gets caught with women outside the club during working hours. who did not want to be named. It’s a practice some owners say they are disgusted by. He also says that due “ S O M E P L A C E S A R E L I K E A B O R D E L L O. S O M E A R E LI KE P IZZ A D E LI V E RY. and several people acquainted with the industry said that in the past. The high maintenance nature of the sector appears to be a source of friction between the syndicate and the super nightclub owners. make laws that regto the changing nature of Lebanon’s tourism industry. 72 August 2009 “The law was permitting us. Police corruption in Lebanon is nothing new.