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W e were driving at about clicks an hour. Dark, craggy, and apart from the passing traffic it would be considered isolated. I saw a lady standing by the curbside in the sand by some trees. There was a large black plastic bag by her side. Lots of makeup, attractive, and well dressed. Something seemed not-quite-normal. It was a strange place for such a lady to just be hanging out. Within a couple of minutes, I saw another. My mind subconsciously twigged.
It was the third spotting, two ladies in matching mini-skirted uniforms, that erased any doubt in my mind. I had entered the lands — of the Polish forest whores.
Brothels, whore-houses, chicken houses, cat houses, dens of iniquity, knock shops, houses of ill repute, and bordellos are illegal in Poland. As the old adage goes — pimping may not be easy — and in Poland, pimping is also illegal. Motivated by these laws, industrious Polish prostitutes have taken their wares and prominently displayed them along roadsides that cut through the forests surrounding many cities in Poland.
Despite the legality of prostitution, the forest prostitutes are members of the only profession that officially remains un-taxed in Poland. In a country where all efforts to promote safe sex are hindered by the dominance of the Catholic Church, this is worrisome. Avoiding income tax may not be so easy. Self-proclaimed prostitutes are now being asked to provide evidence of their working life, such as photographs or client testimonials.
Driving from Warsaw to Augustow, I would estimate that I saw around forty forest prostitutes. Considered as an appropriate method to rob prostitutes of methods of advertising, fortunately the ludicrous proposal was not acted upon. That morning, I was researching one of the most ancient forests in Europe, located not far from where these photos were taken.