German Culture: The Sex Industry & Prostitution in Germany
It is estimated that 1.2 million German men use prostitutes each
year, and the industry has an annual turnover of US$1.6 billion.
Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002. The idea was to
remove the industry from criminal hands and thus reduce the illegal
trafficking of women, make working conditions safer and reduce stigma.
Prostitutes are now able to join unions and get health insurance,
but many sex workers prefer not to register with authorities due
to discrimination and stigma. The result is that prostitutes are
still often forced to work in dark uninhabited industrial areas,
which puts them at risk.
The changes to German law do little to help foreign prostitutes,
who constitute almost half of the total, because they don't have
the correct work permit. This means they risk deportation if they
report ill treatment to the police. Prostitution is already legalised
in The Netherlands, and could be legalised very soon in Belgium.
Sweden legalised prostitution about 30 years ago, but recriminalised
it after about 20 years.
Registered prostitutes are regularly given free mandatory health
checks, and it is also possible for customers to write up contracts
with sex workers in order to protect them in the case of the desired
'services' not being rendered. Unfortunately, a legal loophole means
that the prostitutes can't do anything if the client fails to pay
up after they have sex.
Brothels with officially registered prostitutes have to pay a fee
of about 15-25 Euros per prostitute per day to local authorities.
The city of Cologne receives
about 700,000 Euros a month. The Green Party is particularly active
in campaigning for the rights of sex workers. There are several
prostitute's unions, (e.g. Berlin's HYDRA) which campaign for the
recognition of prostitution as a regular job. In Berlin
there's even an organisation of prostitute's customers, call 'Lust
Jobs in the sex trade are sometimes advertised in job centres.
Recent articles in several English language news portals told the
story of an unemployed 25 year-old IT specialist who was told by
her job centre that her benefits would be removed if she did not
accept a prostitution job offered to her. There was an outcry at
the time, but there is little evidence to support the story, which
is considered by some to be an urban myth.
The precise nature of prostitution in Germany varies from place
to place. In Munich, street
prostitution is not allowed anywhere. In Berlin, almost anything
goes. In Hamburg it is
allowed at certain times of the day at the train station. Many bars
and clubs offer sex services.
In many cities, there is a street known as the 'Mall', where brothels
are located and prostitutes gather. These streets are usually pedestrianised,
so you have to walk there or get dropped of by a taxi, and of course
you have to be 18 to go there.
Many cities have an 'Eros Centre' where women rent a room by day,
sitting in the window to tempt men in. Alternatively, prostitutes
can be found via a host of magazines sold in sex shops (some of
which include customer reviews), or the telephone directory.
Germany currently has very high unemployment rates, which lead
one brothel manager to offer 20% discounts to unemployed clients.
The prostitutes' union gave their approval thinking that it might
cheer up unemployed people. The manager of the brothel, a bar in
Dresden, said that the sex industry was a very good indicator of
the economy as a whole, and that business had dropped about 50%
in recent months. The discount applies to snacks and drinks as well,
but you have to produce proof of unemployment.
Another brothel had an unprecedented number of visitors when it
threw open its doors to raise money for a children's charity. Tickets
were 40 Euros, but sex wasn't for sale, there was just an art exhibition.
Brothels are expecting a big increase in trade during the World
Cup, and about 40,000 prostitutes are expected to travel to Germany
to take advantage of the boom.
where the red light district does not have enough parking space,
they plan to install drive-in sex huts to cope with the problem.
A local official said that although most men would get used to them
because they could protect their identity, 'there will always be
those who want to go behind a bush, under a bridge or into the woods.'
Sex in Austria
Sex in Switzerland
Sex in South Africa
Sex in Germany
- The Facts
The age of consent in Germany is 14 if the partner is under
21 and 16 if the partner is 21 or older. Pimping is illegal.
Europe's largest brothel is the 12- storey Pascha
with 120 rooms to rent (Wikipedia).
Many of the commercial sex workers working in Germany come
from Eastern Europe, particularly Hungary.
Do not take photos in the sex 'Malls', you will not receive
a friendly reaction.