Registered sex workers have been forced underground since closure of brothels in March
Sex workers in Germany are appealing to politicians to ease coronavirus restrictions that have prevented them from working during the pandemic.
Groups representing the more than 40,000 sex workers officially registered in Germany have said that many have been forced underground since the closure of brothels in mid-March. There are growing reports of sex workers being subjected to violence, underpayment and being forced to compromise their health because of clients' demands during meetings in non-formal settings.
Sex workers across Germany have taken their complaints to the streets, in demonstrations in Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart and Berlin.
This week, Berlin’s government appeared to give way to their demands after announcing a “graduated return to sexual services without intercourse”. From 1 September, intercourse will be allowed to take place between sex workers and their clients in the German capital, but only under strict hygiene regulations.
Sex workers operating in Germany’s 15 other states hope the governments there will soon follow suit.
Berlin’s senators recognized that a relaxation of restrictions in the sex industry were “necessary from both a health and also a female politics’ perspective ”. Otherwise, the senate declared, “there is a danger that those affected, due to economic necessity will stumble into relationships of dependency and pursue their occupation in secret and under conditions that are a danger to health”.
Pressure groups say that the pandemic has already done just that, forcing thousands of sex workers to turn to online platforms to advertise their services, and to meet clients in alternative, less safe settings to brothels, often in their homes.