Bärbel Ahlborn, who heads the “Kassandra” advice centre for prostitutes in Nuremberg , told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper the project was unique in Germany.
Participants learn how to deal with disabled people and help them achieve sexual satisfaction.
The latest batch of graduates includes seven women and two men, some of whom have backgrounds in the care sector and have never worked as prostitutes.
One prostitute taking part in the course told the Süddeutsche Zeitung she expected news of the course would divide public opinion. “Some people will welcome it. But many – who are always against us sex workers – will call it perverse.”
Simone Hartmann, deputy head of the Nuremberg-based Pro Familia sexual advice centre, said that sexuality and sexual independence among disabled people were no longer taboo subjects.
One course participant said society had been presented with a false picture of what it meant to give sexual assistance to those with disabilities.
“It’s not always about sexual intercourse,” she told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “but rather about tenderness and touch.”
A woman the paper identifies as Erica, who works in a nursing home and offers sexual services on the side, said “old people and those requiring care are touched during every-day tasks like washing or dressing anyway.”
Until recently the woman had been providing sexual services to those living in remote nursing homes, but she is soon to extend her services to people with physical, mental and psychiatric disabilities too. “Of course I take the €150,” she told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “It would be silly not to.”
One of the male participants in the course, whom the paper identifies as Klaus, works in social care too. He previously took part in a workshop for mentally disabled people which focused on identifying sexual needs.
“It’s something which they want to experience but don’t have the chance to,” he said. “Many can’t even find a name for it.”
Klaus’ grown-up children support his career choice. “It’s not an issue, they think it’s good,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He said Bavaria in particular suffered from a lack of qualified professionals offering services to people with disabilities.
The fight to recognize the sexual needs of disabled people in Germany dates back at least two decades.
In 1992 a “Working group for disability and sexuality” was set up in Berlin by a severely disabled woman who was looking for assistance in satisfying her sexual needs. Almost 20 years later, the “Sexybilities” group was formed with the aim of bringing disabled people together to offer each other sexual advice.