German law endangers sexworkers

A huge step backwards for sexworkers rights

The 7th of july is a bad day in the history of sexworkers rights in germany. the government passed the ProstSchG (prostitution protection law) in the german Bundestag.

We are sexworkers, from a variety of workplaces and backgrounds. Among us are streetbased sexworkers, tantric practitioners, independent escorts, bdsm workers and many more.  Some of us use other terms like stripper or masseuse but we are all affected in a bad way by the new law.

Together we tried to fight the upcoming german law and it’s implications. Here is why.

Despite severe warnings of human rights groups like Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.ch/de/themen/frauenrechte/dok/2016/position-sexarbeit/1605_amnesty_policy_human_rights_sex_workers.pdf, Deutsche Aidshilfe https://www.aidshilfe.de/meldung/deutsche-aids-hilfe-verscharfung-prostitutionsgesetzes-schaden-statt-schutzen, sexworker led organisations http://berufsverband-sexarbeit.de/en/ and many more experts, the new law will enforce mandatory registration of sexworkers nationwide.

The law pretends/seems to fight human trafficking. But instead of helping victims of this crime it lifts the stigmatisation of sex workers on a new level. The forced registration, including the evaluation of ones mental status by a state authority imply sexworkers are perceived as being irresponsible uneducated beings. We oppose this discriminatory opinion, and claim back our agency of making well informed decisions regarding our lifechoices and sexuality. We are adults and we engage in consenting sexwork.

„Are you mentally able to understand what sexwork does to you?“

To perceive our very own whore ID, a state issued document including our picture, our profession (prostitute, the word ‘sexworker’ is a bit too modern for the german state), name and adress, that identifies you as a state approved sexworker we will be forced to visit a state authority. The government section that will have to deal with us has yet to be revealed, but most likely police or the Ordnungsamt (public order office) will be in charge of judging if we are mentally stable enough to takle up the profession. You read this right: an office worker will decide in a compulsory talk if you have the marbles in your brain to be a sexworker.

Neat, right?

Let’s also not forget: you will only be able to get your whore ID if you have an official work permit. This inherently excludes migrants, asylum seekers and many other most vulnerable groups of society that choose sexwork to simply survive. No work permit, no whore ID, getting caught working to eat, you will be deported, most likely to a country in which sexwork is still banned and gets prosecuted. To a country you left for good reasons, sometimes cause of war, sexismn, repression or transphobia (if you are a trans*sexworker).

Once a sexworker, always the stigma

Great, we made it to your whore ID. We now are officially registered as prostitutes in a state database. We all know that state secured databases containing sensitive information are never getting leaked, or hacked, or misused. Not. We feel very safe and secure now to know that there is a huge chance that we will for now and always be outed as sexworkers. Let’s just hope thet we never plan to work in another professional field,  to adopt children, become politicians, simply want to travel freely http://www.metronews.ca/news/vancouver/2013/04/02/ubc-student-accused-of-sex-work-after-trying-to-cross-u-s-border-with-condoms.html or book accomodation on a holiday http://fusion.net/story/276669/julie-simone-airbnb-sex-workers/. Also finding a flat to live will be impossible for those who are also affected by other stigmas like being a person of colour, a migrant or a trans*person.

The law forces former independent sexworkers into dependencies

Pretending  to „safe“ precariously working sexworkers, the new law will actively abolish selforganised small workplaces by forcing brothel owners to seek permission for their establishment. As useful as this will be to make sure that big brothels at least succumb basic industry standards like a  certain hygiene or safety for their workers, it will make it impossible for selforganised sexworkers to work together in teams of two for safety in a legal way. Workers who decide to share a small workspace will be judged the same as huge brothels. Under the new law sexorkers will have exactly three choices:

Work  from their own homes and invite clients in their private bedrooms, making them potentially more vulnerable to abusive customers and violence.

Apply for a room in a regulated and permitted brothel. Easy to predict that only a few brothels will be able to get the necessary certification by the state authorities, which will lead to an artificial shortage of  legal workplaces. Let´s just think a minute about supply, demand and who will be the most vulnerable link in this capitalistic chain.

The third, surely least desired option will be to work illegaly. Sharing a flat with a colleague to ensure independence and safety will be outlawed  – unless the „brothelowners“ will get their license to own a brothel. Too bad that this decision will be expensive and incredibly difficult to  achieve. German building regulation laws are not easy to handle, imagine the paperwork alone. Only the most able, well funded and legally savvy sexworkers will be able to get permission.

More  vulnerable, poor and precarious living sexworkers will be  left with no choice, but to  choose the last option for a variety of reasons. The new law will inforce them to work in unsafe conditions with unprotected services. For sure clients who are looking for unprotected and inhumanly cheap service will have a look for illegalised precarious sexworkers and don’t go to huge, controled, legal brothels. The new law is most dangerous for those who where supposed to be „protected“ by those who created this law.

 

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