Germany: Appeal for a new Left Party policy on prostitution (2020)

Proposed for publication by Heike Haensel

This appeal was agreed by the Left for a World without Prostitution Network in April 2020 and launched as a petition in June. Please sign!

Germany has become Europe’s brothel. While neighbouring countries work to curb prostitution and human trafficking, our country offers limitless opportunities for profiteers. Most of the revenue from prostitution is pocketed by brothel owners, pimps and human traffickers.

Hopes for “clean” prostitution with socially insured jobs and unionised sex workers – the promises made to sell the neoliberal reform of prostitution in 2002 – have finally been dashed. Prostitution is and remains a brutally exploitative institution.

Male control over women’s bodies has been an integral part of the patriarchal system since time immemorial – and in a sense, prostitution is its last bastion. A brothel is now the only place where men still have an unilateral “right” to demand sex with impunity and to use women’s bodies any way they choose.
Prostitution as an institution is incompatible with human dignity (Article 1 of the Basic Law).

As members, officials and branches of the Left Party, we see prostitution as embodying patriarchal violence and power relations, which we are committed to ending. Our vision is to live in a world without prostitution.

In its preamble, the Left Party programme states: “We cling to the dream of mankind that a better world is possible. [.] we fight for a society in which no child has to grow up poor, in which all men and women can live a self-determined life in peace, dignity and social security and can democratically shape social relations.” Under democratic socialism as defined here, there is no place for prostitution.
“Most of our member parties in the European Left are inspired by the Nordic model. I welcome the fact that the discussion on this topic is now gaining momentum in Germany too.” Heinz Bierbaum, President of the European Left Party and the first to sign the appeal.

The Left Party needs a policy on prostitution that adequately reflects its goals of women’s equality, sexual self-determination and social justice. We therefore urge the Left Party to commit unequivocally to ending prostitution.

The aim must be to protect prostitutes and provide them with individual support while restricting the market for prostitution and reducing opportunities for profiteering. It is important to combine acceptance of the affected persons with a critical stance towards prostitution itself.

The Left Party must therefore make the following demands to legislators:

. No criminalisation and exploitation of prostitutes: no fines, no coercive measures against prostitutes. Local sex taxes must be abolished.
. A ban on brothels and pimping: any profits generated from prostituting others must be criminalised. Effective action must be taken against human trafficking.
. A ban on buying sex based on the Swedish model: punters are committing sexual violence. Fines and, for repeat offenders, prison sentences are needed here.
. Improved advice and support with exiting prostitution.
. No-cost voluntary health and legal counselling by the public health authorities; on request, free medical check-ups should be provided without proof of ID or health insurance.
. Affordable health insurance tariffs (with no additional charges for working in prostitution).
. Assistance with (re)integration into the labour market (reskilling/second chance schooling or training, or other services tailored to individual needs).
. Provision of safe houses and, when necessary, access to women’s refuges for people affected by prostitution.
. Guaranteed access to trauma counselling services and language courses.
. Long-term opportunities for every person affected by prostitution to remain in Germany whether or not they are willing to testify in court; no deportations.

. Public sector training – all agencies dealing with prostitution (e.g. the police, public health authorities, tax offices) need training to raise awareness of the living conditions endured by people working in prostitution and of human trafficking and the effects of trauma. Local authorities need properly trained language intermediaries. People who come into contact with prostitution in a work context should develop their social skills in order to prevent harassment of prostitutes.
. Public information campaigns and awareness-raising in schools: young people should be told about the causes and effects of prostitution in order to reduce demand for these services.

We urge the Party’s branches and officials at local council level and the parliamentary groups in the Bundestag and state assemblies to finally take seriously the European Parliament’s cross-party resolution and the Council of Europe resolution endorsing the Nordic model and to adopt this model as party policy.

We ask all Left Party members who endorse this position to sign the petition and organise information events in their local and district associations as a way of mobilising support.

Press release: Immediate help for prostituted women (and others)!