For Azerbaijani men, paying for sex is a taboo in name only. Parliament has even considered legalizing it.
That might seem contradictory for a conservative, mostly Muslim country, but not for young men, like 28-year-old Azerbaijani blogger Orkhan Adigozel, who opt for a sex worker to lose their virginity. As elsewhere in the Caucasus, premarital sex with a girlfriend is (at least nominally) a no-go zone.
Adigozel was a freshman at Azerbaijan State Agricultural University in Ganja, a western city of about 314,000 people, when he went to a brothel in a nondescript, five-storey apartment building for his first sexual experience. The encounter with the woman, some ten to 12 years his senior, cost him, as he recalls, somewhere between 20 or 30 manats (at the time, about $34 or $51) for an hour.
“She welcomed me at the door. Her home was clean and prepared. She welcomed me very pleasantly,” he recollects. “In the beginning, we talked a little. Later, she said some nice words to me, and then asked whether I am ready or not.”
Ten years later, though, he would not repeat his choice. Passion for a price, he realizes, is no passion at all.