Social Issues

German sex workers demand easing of restrictions to resume activities

Berlin, Jun 2 (efe-epa).- Several German sex workers’ advocacy groups have called on the government to end lockdown restrictions and to deploy financial aid for a sector which has been plunged into an economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An open letter signed by various professional organizations released on Tuesday, which is International Sex Workers’ Day, denounces the ban on sex work, while other sectors with a lot physical contact, such as body massage, no longer have restrictions.

The statement says many women have been left without an income, accommodation and even without access to health care, and that for those who were in “precarious and threatening situations” before the pandemic are now even more at risk.

Even though prostitution is legal in Germany, precariousness and irregularities are frequent in the sector, as well as discriminatory practices of authorities, the letter warns.

It can be difficult for sex workers to access state aid for the self-employed or social benefits for the unemployed, the letter adds.

In mid-May, a proposal for the reopening of brothels by the Professional Association for Erotic and Sexual Service Providers (BesD) caught the attention of German media, which summarized with headlines like Sex with a Mask.

The plan the BesD presented to convince lawmakers to lift restrictions included the obligatory use of face masks, keeping a 30 cm distance between sex workers and customers at all times, as well as recording all client data to facilitate track and trace monitoring in the event of an outbreak.

The association also highlighted that in neighbouring countries authorities have already set a date for resumption of activities.

In Switzerland, brothels will reopen on 6 June, while in Austria they will do so at the beginning of the next month.

According to a report published last month in the Spiegel, many sex workers have continued to work in recent months, despite the ban, out of necessity.

There has also been a hike in prices caused by increased demand as a result of the lockdown.

Since the introduction of the Prostitutes Protection Act of 2017, which requires by law for professionals to register their activities with local authorities, some 33,000 people have officially registered in Germany, although according to some estimates the figure could be between 5 and 10 times higher. EFE-EPA

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