School for husbands

Czech billboards will soon beg Austrian wives to keep their men away from prostitutes.

Published July 24, 2001 7:43PM (EDT)

Austrian men have been driving into the Czech Republic to have sex with Czech prostitutes, and a few Czech mayors have devised a plan for discouraging them. According to the Ananova news service, billboards will soon appear in several Czech towns urging Austrian women to control their husbands.

"Many Austrian women come shopping here, so they'll see these posters," Emil Ruzicka, the mayor of Dolni Dvoriste, told Ananova.

The E55 highway, which runs north through the Czech Republic, is lined with prostitutes. According to the mayors, 95 percent of the johns come from Austria.

"If we can stop the demand from the Austrian side," said Jan Kozojed, deputy mayor of Kaplice, "then the supply of prostitutes will also stop."

The thinking, apparently, is that shame will pick up where the law leaves off. The thinking is also, apparently, that a few strategically placed billboards can put an end to infidelity, or at least the international kind. It's a funny conceit: If the wives are presumed to already know about their husbands' dalliances, the implication is that they haven't already responded in one way or another. And if the signs are meant to break the news to the women, well, traditional etiquette rarely endorses highway billboards in these delicate situations.

There's something charmingly unbelievable, in that European way, about the resurrected notion that women must control their men, and that men alone needn't be bothered with these state-sponsored entreaties. It's quaint, maybe. Quaint like fresh baguettes, and hookers along a highway.

By Chris Colin

Chris Colin is the author most recently of "Blindsight," published by the Atavist.

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