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'Germany is the brothel of Europe': Row breaks out over the purchase of sex

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DPA/The Local - [email protected]
'Germany is the brothel of Europe': Row breaks out over the purchase of sex
Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

A German sex industry association has opposed a proposal to ban the purchase of sex in Germany, arguing that prohibition would lead to worse conditions for sex workers.

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The Federal Association for Erotic and Sexual Services expressed its view in reaction to a recent suggestion by Dorothee Bär, deputy leader of the centre-right CSU parliamentary group.

Bär is arguing for the introduction of a law that would criminalise the purchase but not the sale of sexual services, a model first introduced by Sweden in 1999 and later replicated by other countries, including France in 2016. 

Kolja-André Nolte, spokesperson for the sex industry association, said a ban on paying for sex would lead to even worse working conditions for sex workers in precarious situations.

"The very people such a law aims to protect could instead be compelled to remain in the sex industry, especially those who lack alternative career prospects."

READ ALSO: Five things to know about prostitution in Germany

Dorothee Bär said she was advocating for a ban to provide better protection for women in the sex industry. 

"Germany has become the brothel of Europe. Germany has also become very attractive worldwide for sex tourism," she said.  

The CSU politician said Germany was home to around 250,000 prostitutes. Given that many sex workers are unregistered, estimates vary wildly, ranging from 150,000 to 700,000, according to previous DPA figures.  

Bär's proposal has also met with opposition from the Greens in the Bundestag.

"We Greens view a sex purchase ban critically," said the party's women's policy spokesperson Ulle Schauws.

She argued that the CSU proposal oversimplified the issue and emphasised that a ban risked pushing prostitutes into illegality.

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Since the introduction of the Prostitution Act in 2002, sex work in Germany is no longer considered morally reprehensible and is instead viewed as a regular profession.

The red-green coalition in power at the time sought to improve the conditions for sex workers by allowing them to sue for their wages and become part of health, unemployment and pension programmes.

But many experts argue that the law in fact made things easier for human traffickers, who could coerce women, many of them foreign, to pose as free-standing professionals.

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