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Experts warn of a ban on buying sex

Berlin – Discussion on prostitution: associations and counseling centers provide information on the dangers of criminalization and useful alternatives

On the occasion of International Day Against Violence Against Women, 25.11. Today, trade associations and counseling centers have presented their position on the debate on the so-called ban on selling sex. They show in international studies: Any form of criminalization of prostitution harms sex workers.

Organizations respond with this expertise to the intention of some parliamentarians from different parties to punish the use of sexual services. A similar proposal is expected at the upcoming Congress of the SPD Federal Party.

Prostitutes face new dangers

The claim that prostitutes could protect themselves from coercion and trafficking in this way is rejected by experts. On the contrary: prostitutes in unsafe and dangerous situations would be particularly damaged as they would continue to marginalize and prevent safe working conditions. Access to help and advice would be immensely difficult.

Scientific evidence

The studies are clear: criminalization increases the risk of victims falling victim to violence and other crimes or infecting sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. Anyone who really wants to do something for sex workers needs to improve their living and working conditions. This is especially true for women with legal problems and without health insurance.

Safe working conditions are maintained

On the other hand, a ban on sex would also result in a ban on brothels and flats – which would impair the creation of safer working conditions.

Says Johanna Thie, Special Advisor to "Helping Women" Diakonia Deutschland – Protestant Work for Deaconess and Development e. V.: "The heated debate fills us with deep concern. It goes in the wrong direction and misunderstands the reality of prevention and social work. The disadvantaged would be particularly marginalized. groups like migrants, trans * or drug users. What should protect people in prostitution could ultimately be devastating to them. "

Claudia Zimmermann-Schwartz, Vice President of the German Bar Association e.V., explains: According to the Federal Constitutional Court, prostitution is a constitutionally protected professional freedom. The claim that it wants to protect people does not justify a violation of fundamental rights. This is all the more so since a ban on buying sex is unlikely to impede trafficking. "

Susanne Kahl-Passoth, Vice-Chair of the German Women's Council, explains: "Prostitution and trafficking or forced prostitution must be considered separately. There are women earning their own income through prostitution. Trafficking in human beings, on the other hand, is a violation of human rights. Today, police and social working in commercial spaces can show how accessible they are. With the prohibition of sex, prostitution would be moved to uncontrolled spaces where vulnerable women could be even less likely than they are today. "

Sven Warminsky, board member of German Aidshilfe, reports: "All HIV prevention experiences show: The basis for reaching people is acceptance and respect. Those who have kept people secret ensure that they cannot build safe working conditions and are no longer available for prevention and help. The idea that bans can end the world's oldest trade is as naive as patronizing. "

Andrea Hitzke, Director of Dortmund Mitternachtsmission e.V. – Counseling services for prostitutes, alumni and victims of human trafficking: "Repressive legislation would destroy the relationship of the prostitute's trust to contact points and make access to the assistance system drastically difficult. Instead of breaking down, we need to expand the assistance system in place. The goal of social work must always be to strengthen self-determination and self-affirmation. "

Claudia Rabe, co-ordinator of the Counter-Specialist Office for Trafficking in Women in Schleswig-Holstein at the Women's Work of the North Church, emphasizes: "Undoubtedly, victims of trafficking, exploitation and violence must be better protected. For example, comprehensive property rights, regardless of residence, are needed. the right to refuse to give evidence for advisory services and the availability of specialist counseling centers throughout the country.

Safe differentiated offers

The position paper identifies many other reasonable starting points and makes it clear that the equalization of prostitution and violence ultimately prevents effective measures.

The living conditions and working conditions of sex workers in Germany are very diverse. They all have one thing in common: as long as they do their business, they need legal framework conditions to make it as safe as possible. They need access to medical care and differentiated prevention, counseling and support services that offer appropriate assistance in the individual situation, which of course may include support for leaving.

German Aidshilfe

German Women’s Council e.V.

German Bar Association e.V.

Diakonie Deutschland – Protestant work for deaconess and development e.V.

Dortmunder Mitternachtsmission e.V. – counseling for prostitutes, alumni and victims of human trafficking

v. e.g. V. Kiel – Specialist Office for Combating Trafficking in Women in Schleswig-Holstein

Joint Working Paper

German Institute for Human Rights on "Prostitution and Prohibition of Sex" (position and scientific background)