“It puts women in danger”

Prostitution © Caro Bastian (epd)

Prostitution and sex work are not nice jobs. The prohibition at the Corona time does not make the situation better, however, but brings many prostitutes to the unregulated, secret practice of their job. The Social Service of Catholic Women demands changes.

Interviewer: Do more prostitutes than usual seek advice from you during Corona time??

Rene Pieper (Head of Prostitute Aid, Social Service of Catholic Women): In any case. By the end of June, we had as many women in the counseling center as for the whole of 2019. And we are still doing well in counseling with the women.

Interviewer: What are the most urgent problems that the women come to you with?

Pieper: The most urgent problem since the lockdown is the financial hardship that the women are facing right away.

Interviewer: How can you help??

Beeper: That is quite different. It simply depends in which form which problems occurred with the woman. We have a lot of women who go out to work on the streets. The problem with these women is that they often work from one day to the next. There is little savings where they can just go for the lockdown. Then, of course, there are also women who already started looking for longer-term financial solutions back then. And in between, we go to counseling with the women and simply try to help them.

So quite spontaneous immediate help, where it's simply a matter of the woman who now comes to the counseling center finding advice. Maybe she is still a single parent and just needs money for dinner. In March and April, we were very lucky that we were able to help the women spontaneously through many donations from different people and organizations. For longer-term solutions, it is of course a matter of looking at: What can be a solution? Is it help from the office? Is it perhaps the support in an application procedure, because she is not allowed to work at all from now on and perhaps wants to finance herself differently??

Interviewer: In other countries, for example in Austria, prostitutes are already allowed to work again. Are there any plans at all in Germany on the part of the politicians for relaxation??

Pieper: I am not aware of any plans. Other counseling centers don't know about any plans either. Today it was also a topic in the press, and there was the stand from the Ministry of Health that this topic of sex work and prostitution has not yet been tackled in any way.

Interviewer: Just because sex work is not officially allowed to take place does not mean that it does not take place. Doesn't that put the women in danger themselves??

Pieper: It puts the women in danger – and of course also in total discord. We have had a prostitution protection law since 2017 – with registration, health examinations, and also registration with the tax office, which the women also do. And now because of the lockdown this was somehow totally forgotten. There are of course the women who have financial hardships and of course continue to pursue prostitution in secret and who are of course exposed to dangers. If, for example, they can no longer work on the protected street prostitution, but work somewhere and somehow…

Interviewer: In other words, if there are no changes soon, prostitution here in Germany will be pushed further and further into a legal vacuum.

Pieper: In part in any case.

Interviewer: And how do you from the Social Service of Catholic Women try to influence that??

Pieper: Of course, we also try to exert political influence and to communicate again and again: What are the needs of women? What is the need, what the women have? And what is the danger of an even longer lockdown in prostitution?? And we hope to be heard.

The interview was conducted by Hilde Regeniter.

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