May 26, 2010
German's legalized prostitution brought more exploitation than emancipation to women
By Youngbee Dale
Prostitution is legal in Germany (AP)
German chief police reported yesterday sex trafficking is on the rise in the country. The chief officer also said that sex trafficking has increased 11 percent from last year and 70% over five year period. While many advocates for legalized prostitution argued that legalization should improve the rights of prostitutes and eliminate discrimination, the case in Germany shows otherwise. Rather, the sex industry in Germany became a magnet for sex traffickers from Eastern Europe and African countries. Further, it became a source of exploitation of German as well as other foreign women rather than their emancipation to support their right to sell their bodies.
German's current prostitution legislation
According to the police report, since the legalization, sex trade is tolerated in most part of German soil except for a few industrialized area. Many Eastern European women are forced into prostitution in Germany, but forced prostitution of African women are on the rise as well. The African women are manipulated or coerced into prostitution by using voodoo rituals to intimate victims in many cases. But the greater concern lies elsewhere. The police said that child trafficking comprises 65 out of 534 cases reported last year, and 41 of them were under the age of 14.
Initially, the German government thought that legalization would lead to the decrease in sex trafficking, safer conditions for prostitutes, and removal of "some of the stigma from the industry." But in reality, legalization not only increased sex trafficking of women and children but also fail to change the stigma attached to prostitution for the past few years. A study shows that the majority of prostitutes in Germany prefer to "do the job secretly because they still experience discrimination." The same study also shows that even the government agencies are not willing to broker jobs or offer retraining as they do for employees in other industries. Further, the health insurance company does not provide special health provisions for prostitutes. In terms of their rights, many prostitutes in Germany are still live in poor conditions and exploited by the pimps and the landlords who take the majority of the prostitutes' earnings.
Women become cheaper
As German law recognizes prostitution as a legitimate employment choice, some women are forced into prostitution when they are unemployed. Under the German law, any unemployed women under the age of 55 are required to take a job available on the national listings if they have been out of job more than a year. Otherwise, their unemployment benefit will be taken away from them. In 2005 , a government agency threatened a qualified information technologist to take away her unemployment benefit if she refused to take a job as a prostitute in a legalized brothel. Working at a legalized brothel and selling her bodies therefore became another employment option that she has explore before facing the suspension of her benefits. I n other case during the recession in 2009, the German brothels began to offer a flat rate sex promotions. As sex industry and prostitution are legalized, the brothel owners are required to pay the prostitutes daily wages regardless of how many customers they offer sexual services. Therefore, the brothel owners offered a deal to the johns that they can sleep with as many prostitutes as they can to attract more customers for cheaper deal. According to the report, the promotion is based on "all you can eat buffet" principle. Yet, the law enforcement could not do anything about such inhumane practice of mistreating women because prostitution is legalized in Germany.
Still want to legalize prostitution?
The case in Germany shows that legalization of prostitution commodified the view of women regardless of her professions or intellectual levels. Though some women cry out for legalization of prostitution and their rights to sell their bodies, there are many others who do not want to put up with johns perceiving them as nothing more than sex objects. The German case also teaches one a lesson that the solution to fight against sex trafficking is not to legalized prostitution but to lock away johns. Perhaps, some women need to realize that their bodies and personhood as well as those of other women are meant some greater than sexual services imposed on themselves by this hyper-sexualized culture.