Sex work – Questions for our society



On the occasion of the International Whores’ Day, which took place on 2nd of June, I am devoting myself to the subject of sex work and listening to those voices who are still struggling with discrimination and who wish to be treated with respect. Because sex work is work! This day has been celebrated for 43 years. The starting point of the international day of whores as a day of remembrance was 2nd of June, 1975, when more than 100 prostitutes occupied a church in Lyon to draw attention to their situation with partly exploitative living and working conditions. Since then, this day of remembrance has been celebrated annually on 2nd of June.

What has changed since then, how open is our society really to this topic? According to statistics, Internet pornography has a daily turnover of 12.6 million euros. With 12.4 percent of the worldwide traffic, the Germans lead in »porn watching«. How can it be, that the multitude of users, who consume porn with pleasure, nevertheless develop an aversion against the real actors and recognize their work as not full-fledged? Why are escorts still hiding behind false names and when do we finally understand that sex workers do incredible things, often even give up a piece of themselves in order to offer their customers the best service possible? It is long overdue to pay tribute to sex workers that they actually deserve and finally break the stigma.


Sex work is work – respect!

No matter under which conditions sex workers work, whether as porn actors, dominatrixes, as escorts in an agency, as prostitutes in a fine brothel or with a pimp: they would all be better off if sex work did not have such a big stigma. The fact is that many sex workers have no problem with their work, on the contrary, they even enjoy it. The big problem is how to deal with it in our society. The people behind these professions still have to make a secret of where they work. According to statistics, half of all men in Germany go to a brothel once a month, 88% of men have already been there once in their lives. This was found out in a survey conducted by the women’s magazine Brigitte. A hypocrisy that makes no sense. The fact that sex work is treated as reprehensible shows how repressed our society still is in dealing with sex. Escorts and prostitutes do not only physical, but also emotional work, often this occupation resembles the activity of a therapist. It’s about listening, adapting completely to your partner’s needs, smiling when it’s needed, even if you may not feel like recognizing these longings and fulfilling them 100%. Not an easy undertaking, a service: You provide your body, your time and your attention and receive money for it.


Prostitution Protection Act and its Effects

Excerpt from Hydra e.V.:

On July 1st, 2017, the so-called »Prostitution Protection Act« (ProstSchG) will enter into force, requiring all sexual and erotic service providers to register personally with the relevant authorities. The individual authorities are not specified in the law and are left to the respective federal states. For example, police sections, the registration offices or the trade offices can be considered.

Registration must take place under the government name. In addition, two photos are required, as well as the current registration address, date and place of birth, and nationality. In addition, sex workers are obliged to undergo health counseling. After up to five working days, a photo ID will be issued, which must always be carried with you when carrying out the respective activity and must be reapplied for every two years. The mandatory health consultation must be repeated every year. If an authority has evidence that a person is performing sexual or erotic services without the necessary notification, it may impose a fine of up to 1,000 euros.

It is remarkable that a law which claims to guarantee protection for sex workers seriously undermines several of their fundamental rights. Thus, the obligation to register and the possibilities to issue orders to sex workers inside limit the right to free choice of profession, and the extensive monitoring possibilities, which the ProstSchG grants to the authorities towards sex workers, violate the fundamental right to inviolability of the dwelling. The storage of personal data in connection with information on a person’s sexual life is particularly serious, since it violates the fundamental right to informational self-determination and the European Parliament directive on »the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data«. In respect of the fact that absolute secure data protection cannot be guaranteed, future data collection therefore is highly problematic. Although the ProstSchG serves as a model for the regulations for persons who have become victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, the law does not grant rights or claims to sex workers or those affected by human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Instead, it contains various obligations and restrictions for them and grants authorities extensive control options.

The ProstSchG in its enacted form is consistently unacceptable. It criminalizes sex workers and represents a major violation of their fundamental rights. The destigmatization of sex work is a particularly important human rights requirement that the law does not even begin to meet.

HYDRA e.V. has been working since 1980 for the legal and social equality of sex workers with other employed persons. The association is committed to improving the living conditions of prostitutes and fights against their discrimination and social stigma.


End of stigmatisation / Open up

When we talk about voluntary sex work, whether as porn actors, escorts, dominatrixes or prostitutes, we have to note at this point that these people are not victims and in most cases do their job with pleasure, they like to define themselves as »sex workers« and simply wish to be respected by society as normal service providers, just like everyone else, no more and no less. If we were to show the same respect for sex workers as all the other service providers, then and only then we would move towards a culture of solidarity.

Do we seriously want to live in a society that degrades sex workers to objects and does not give them the same support that other social groups are entitled to?