Have you ever paid for a prostitute

Prostitution in corona times"The suitors still want sex"

The doors in the "Candy Shop" and "Bordell Lankwitzer 7" in the south of Berlin have been closed - for a year now. Because of the Corona Lockdown, operator Aurel Marx had to close both of his shops. And while hairdressers, massage and cosmetic studios are now allowed to reopen under certain conditions, brothels remain closed. The suitors still want sex, Corona or not, says operator Marx and points to his cell phone:

"They care absolutely nothing about Corona, if I just (read) the first lines of the inquiries: Hello, is Antonia there? Hello Paris, hello Mira, are there any vacancies at the moment? Can you visit me in Weißensee? Hello, Are you private? Do you have time? Hello, do you have some girls free now? Is escort available? Does Sarah still have time today? This is Turkish, I can't read that. Hello Lana, are you working today? 2035 only processing unanswered messages my Whatsapp portal. "

Good business thanks to Corona

So the demand is there, due to Corona even more than before, says Luisa. And because the demand is there, it just keeps working. Corona or not. Before the lockdown, the woman in her mid-thirties was a regular prostitute in Aurel Marx's brothel, now she visits customers in half of Europe. She is currently in Switzerland:

"Thank goodness I have my regular guests. Well, over time I've built up a base and then I have my regular guests, whom I go to and who then book me overnight. Then I'll make my money too."

(picture-alliance / Markus Scholz) Debate about the Prostitution Act - an end to sex work?
Organized prostitution in Germany has been on hold for months due to the corona epidemic. While many sex workers fear for their existence, some politicians and church representatives are campaigning for a general ban on buying sex.

Sometimes you have more to do now than before, thanks to Corona: "And I also have to say that this Corona brings depression with it. People are alone and that is perhaps a plus because they then book me more than they do might have done it before. "

The business with love for sale is booming, despite the current ban across Germany, which has never been lifted in general and everywhere during the entire past year. The SPD politician Karl Lauterbach rightly thinks:

"While the corona pandemic is taking place, prostitution is simply life-threatening, both for clients and for prostitutes. They cannot control the safety distances and hygiene measures in any way."

Sex purchase ban based on the Nordic model

And because prostitution is currently prohibited, some politicians would prefer to maintain the ban after Corona. The shutdown for prostitution imposed during the corona crisis should not be relaxed, demanded 16 parliamentarians in a letter to the heads of government of the countries last spring, including the former health minister Hermann Gröhe (CDU), Karl Lauterbach and the SPD trade unionist Leni Breymaier . They advocated a sex purchase ban and exit programs for prostitutes.

(imago stock & people) Author: "The majority of women don't do it voluntarily"
According to the author Barbara Schmid, most prostitutes in Germany were lured in from abroad with false promises or fell for "lover boys". Politicians have the unrealistic image of the self-determined sex worker in mind, she said in the Dlf.

A ban on buying sex, based on the so-called Nordic model, means that the suitors are punished, not the prostitutes. This rule is now also used in France. Sweden led the way, where buying sexual services has been banned since 1999. One wanted to abolish prostitution without criminalizing women, explains Susanne Dodillet from the University of Gothenburg. But: All income from prostitution is illegal and that has consequences:

"It is also forbidden to benefit from joint income or from the income of a prostitute, which means that prostitutes cannot actually live with other people because they might then share the rent or do some shopping together. And that is in Sweden Also prohibited. And the same applies to the children of prostitutes, for example when they accept gifts or have their studies financed by their mother or father who works in prostitution. And the aim of all these laws is actually to Not to affect women, but still make prostitution so difficult that women drop out of prostitution because you think that no woman can do that voluntarily. "

The effectiveness of a sex purchase ban has not been proven

There are contradicting studies about whether the bill worked or just made sure that the love that can be bought now takes place in secret. Prostitution has been reduced by 50 percent, says the Swedish government. Susanne Dodillet contradicts:

"It is not true that this sex purchase ban has put a stop to prostitution. That is not true, it cannot be scientifically proven and said that it is. It has not even changed public opinion greatly because it was already from Sweden very skeptical of prostitution beforehand. "

Public opinion in Germany is more tolerant in this regard, says prostitute Kristina Marlen. But at the moment the situation here is comparable to that in Sweden and the consequences can be observed on your own doorstep:

"Due to the corona situation, we already have a quasi-sex purchase ban in Germany at the moment. And it can be seen that everything we prophesied will happen immediately. Of course, prostitution will not stop. People continue to work. And they work under a lot, much unsafe conditions. "

Prostitutes even more vulnerable due to prohibition

Because even with closed brothels there is always another place to offer sex for sale, says Aurel Marx. Corona even made the situation easier in this regard:

"It all takes place somewhere in private, in some apartments, back rooms, in some hotels that are not doing well economically, that are happy about every euro. That is where it takes place. Probably in a lot of vacant Airbnb apartments who have had no income for months. "

(Deutschlandradio / Moritz Küpper) Prostitute demo against corona requirements
Prostitutes demonstrated in Cologne against the Corona requirements. The pandemic makes work impossible for many, because the brothels are closed throughout Germany. The industry feels like it is being purposely forgotten.

And that's exactly the problem, say brothel operators and prostitutes. Because sex no longer takes place in the protected setting of a brothel, the women are more at risk, not just with regard to an infection with corona. Because the job is currently illegal, she can be blackmailed and has no way of asking the police for help, for example, says Luisa

"People try to riot you, to pay less. You definitely lose value and you are also more cautious, you put up with a lot more because you are afraid that the police will then be called in. Or also in general, if someone wants to have any pedophile games and I am supposed to play a baby with a pacifier in my mouth, I would normally call the police and say, we are in danger here. There are colleagues who had to watch child porn. You just have to accept a lot more, and these people know that too. Also in terms of finances, if he doesn't pay the money or takes it away from you, yes, what do you want to say. "

More returnees in corona times

In addition, because of the economic hardship caused by the corona measures, there are more women returning and entering the world than ever before, says the non-party Berlin MP Marcel Luthe:

"You have those who might have at some point toyed with the idea of ​​prostituting themselves or who might have worked in prostitution at some point, who have long been doing other jobs, who now get no money and who now sat there over Christmas and none November received help for their independence in some area, December anyway, they have no right to Hartz4 or anything else. And then they stand there and ask themselves what they should do. "

Equal treatment with other body-related services is required

So sex workers and brothel operators demand equal treatment with other body-related services. The risk of infection in a hygienically run brothel is no higher than, for example, with hairdressers, in massage or nail studios, says Lena, who used to work as a freelance in the Marx brothel. After all, there are protective measures:

"So face mask, customer data collection, don't kiss anyway, doggy position, hand disinfection is what we all do anyway. And we are very flexible and very willing to adhere to the requirements, and I know that customers are too."

A follow-up is even possible, says Aurel Marx, because every customer in a brothel or escort service leaves their name and address and usually pays by credit card. A letter from the Robert Koch Institute also confirms that a superspreader case by people in sex work has never been reported. Prostitution is particularly dangerous when it is illegal:

"And now women are working, so to speak, without the useful infrastructure, without protection, without hygiene, without everything." A giant step backwards, say the prostitutes. There have actually been efforts to improve their situation for years.

Prostitute Protection Act since 2017

Since 2002, prostitution in Germany is no longer immoral and recognized as a profession. Prostitutes have the option of statutory social insurance. In 2017 the Prostitute Protection Act came into force, according to which they have to register with their local authorities and receive regular health advice. The brothels are checked and have to meet strict requirements. Aurel Marx has therefore received corona aid as a legal tax-paying entrepreneur. Some of the registered prostitutes have also received support as self-employed and some of them continue to work because otherwise there is not enough money.

(AFP / Joel Saget) Author Emma Becker on prostitution
Emma Becker's novel is called "La Maison". This "house" is a brothel in Berlin where the French writer worked for two years. She absolutely wanted to have this experience, because prostitution has always fascinated her.

However, only 33,000 women are registered as prostitutes in Germany. The much larger part - 200,000 to 400,000, estimate aid organizations, is not registered and is therefore not entitled to help. This particularly affects women from Southeastern Europe who prostitute themselves on the street because they have no other chance. And because despite the current ban, the pimps and human trafficking gangs ensure that business continues, according to the non-party Berlin MP Marcel Luthe. There has been a massive increase in the area of ​​organized crime.

"You still have the opportunity to order prostitutes, especially online, of course, and if you look at the relevant pages, it is essentially Bulgaria and Romania, which are offered at dumping prices and of course still without a condom. And that leads precisely to the fact that the prostitutes have no protection whatsoever, can neither enforce a financial claim, nor are protected from violence, nor are they protected from customers asking for things that they should not actually ask for.

Women's meeting: "The plight of women is incredibly high"

Before Corona, these women in Berlin were mainly on the street prostitution on Kurfürstenstraße. The police now check here regularly. But that makes survival even more difficult for women, says Lonneke Schmidt-Bink from the Olga women's meeting place on Kurfürstenstrasse:

"The need of women is just incredibly high at the moment. They live from day to day, they only live to the next meal, if they are addicted to the next purchase of addictive substances, etc. They still go to work because they have no other choice. "

And they certainly don't pay attention to hygiene concepts, suspects Carsten Spallek, the city councilor responsible for Mitte and thus also for Kurfürstenstrasse:

"We had to observe that in the past, too, that sometimes prostitutes are also forced to have unprotected sexual intercourse, and when we then think about suitors who move in the area where we are talking about 10 or 20 euros and a clientele who, let me say, is borderline, they will certainly not make sure that hygiene concepts are adhered to. "

Breymaier (SPD): Sex work under Corona inhumane

And that is why most of the sex work is not only dangerous from a corona point of view, but also inhumane and misogynistic, says the SPD trade unionist Leni Breymaier. Legalization does not make the situation any better. She is therefore calling for the trade to be banned completely, despite the Prostitute Protection Act that recently came into force, because women are generally the losers in this business:

"A lot, lots of people benefit, but not the women who vegetate under miserable inhumane conditions in the brothels, apartment apartments, on the street, etc."

Association Sisters: "Working material for young women from Southeast Europe"

90 percent of all women would involuntarily work in prostitution, says Sabine Constabel from the Sisters association, which advises prostitutes who are willing to leave:

"Well, we keep hearing from women that what I'm doing is not work. I'm doing it because I have no choice, because I urgently need money for my family back home, because I have a friend who is in a difficult situation. It is a scandal that we have a legalized prostitution industry whose work materials are young women from Southeastern Europe. That is just a scandal. "

Stefanie Klee from the Federal Association of Sexual Services contradicts this. Of course there are victims of human trafficking and forced prostitution. Most women would choose the profession, even if sometimes out of necessity

"And I would like to say that a sex worker from Bulgaria did the same. Of course, she is primarily guided by the fact that in the Eastern European countries the working conditions for her are perhaps zero, that a large family stands behind her who eat and drink and need a roof over your head, that is, where it comes to bare survival and who then say, here in Germany you can earn so much with prostitution that you help us all. "

Prostitutes: Social inequalities in Europe do not only affect sex workers

And that, in turn, is favored by the social gradient in Europe - and it affects by far not only sex workers, says prostitute Kristina Marlen:

"We have the problem that people in Germany do work that no German person would do. And that's how it is in agriculture, that's how it is in construction, that's in gastronomy, that's in the meat industry. There is Jobs, I'd rather not even think about it. People come from Eastern European countries and elsewhere, and we accept that. It's only a drama in sex work. Because it's about female sexuality, so to speak, and what is negotiated Women are allowed to do what they are not allowed to do. This ban on buying sex or the punishment of clients does not solve any of these problems.

While the ban on sex purchases based on the Nordic model is still being discussed in the CDU and SPD, the Greens and FDP have now spoken out against it. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the governing parties CDU and FDP brought the motion "No! To the sex purchase ban of the Nordic model" in parliament. The SPD and the Greens supported this request. That should set an example. Because: The federal government has to decide on a sex purchase ban. At most, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia can decide whether and for how long a work ban for prostitutes resulting from the lockdown applies.

New position paper at federal level

At the federal level, the CDU / CSU parliamentary group has now presented a position paper with the heading: "Protect prostitutes - fight forced prostitution - strengthen exit offers". It is no longer about a general ban on the purchase of sex, but more than 40 demands are about stricter regulations and about making better use of the legal framework.The federal states should make greater use of their options, for example to designate restricted areas, and the Prostitute Protection Act of 2017 should be evaluated earlier than planned. In addition, the CDU / CSU wants to significantly strengthen the protection of certain groups in particular by banning prostitution for under 21 year olds and pregnant women and at the same time wanting to offer exit options, says the deputy chairman of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group Nadine Schön:

"We actually have the phenomenon that we have very young women, some of whom are lured into our country without any language skills, under false pretenses, and of course there is an easy game for pimps and exploiters We are once again a clear sign that we also demand a certain degree of maturity and a certain degree of independence in order to be able to work in this very difficult profession. "

Activist Felicitas Schirow: A moral discussion

However, this contradicts the sex workers' demand for equality with other professions, says Stefanie Klee from the 'Federal Association of Sexual Services', appalled.

"Because I will come of age at 18. At 18. I have full legal capacity. That means, of course I can buy a car, of course I can take a job, sign an apprenticeship contract. I can even work for the armed forces and, if necessary, go to a crisis area sent. Then why shouldn't I, if I am allowed to do everything else, not also decide to go to prostitution? "

The whole thing is still more of a moral discussion, says Felicitas Schirow. 20 years ago, at that time still under the name Felicitas Weigmann, she fought to ensure that prostitution was no longer classified as immoral - and was successful. But as long as prostitution is treated differently by the law than other professions, sex workers would also be stigmatized. And as long as very few women will register, even though the Prostitute Protection Act, which was actually passed with good intent, requires it:

"You are recorded in a card index, and let someone in the family who is not allowed to know, rummage there. Or the handbag is stolen and then this whore's certificate may be published on the Internet. The people who might just do it on the side who still have plans, who study or something, a world can collapse for them. "

Schirow: "One to one exchange" with the auto mechanic

So sex work takes place, for the most part, literally, in the dark. That was the case before Corona and got even worse during Corona and would be exactly the same with a Nordic model, says Felicitas Schirow. She laughs and, like so many prostitutes and their suitors, finds a way out. Fortunately, all discussions on prohibitions are always about paid sex, not about fun or small mutual favors, such as the car mechanic in the workshop:

"My car was broken, so he did the oil change for me, which was all necessary, yes, and then we fell upon each other in good German. There was no longer any discussion of whether I should pay now or whether he pays. So that was, so to speak, a one-to-one swap. "

And so all efforts to somehow prevent the oldest trade in the world will fail in the end, says Luisa. And as long as the sex is consensual, everyone will benefit from it:

"I think you can't forbid that, it will never be possible. It's like with drugs. There will always be drugs and prostitution. That's the best way to get a lot of money in a short time."