Bundesrat demands objective debate and differentiated measures amid plans to reform Prostitution Act
Resolution about measures to regulate prostitution
Last Friday, the Upper House of the German Parliament, the Bundesrat, passed a resolution calling for an objective debate and differentiated measures amid plans by the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Social Democrats to reform the German Prostitution Act of 2002 (ProstG).
The Bundesrat found that debates in the public sphere and in the media were still based on prejudices, a lack of knowledge and sensationalism. The Bundesrat particularly opposed the blanket equation of prostitution and human trafficking. Even if prostitution might not be a “job like any other”, the Bundesrat affirmed that it fell under the freedom to choose an occupation, according to Article 12 of the German Basic Law.
In 2012, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) reported 612 victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Germany. Despite the assumption that a considerable number of cases remained unreported, the identified cases had to be seen in relation to the estimated number of sex workers.
The Bundesrat also stated that there was no solid evidence that the adoption of the Prostitution Act had lead to an increase in human trafficking. Despite an increase in investigative proceedings, the number of victims had not increased since the Prostitution Act came into effect.
The Bundesrat called upon its members to further develop the Prostitution Act to ensure greater protection from violence for sex workers, to enhance sex workers’ right to self-determination, to guarantee fair working conditions, and to push back illegal forms of prostitution.
The Bundesrat opposed the introduction of mandatory health checks, judging them as unreasonable and hardly expedient. Mandatory health checks represented grave infringements of basic human rights, and there was no epidemiological research available to prove they could halt the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. On the contrary, they would increase both the stigmatisation of sex workers and the threshold to seek counselling in difficult social situations. In addition, the measure could cause clients of sex workers to believe safe sex to be unnecessary.
Finally, the Bundesrat also dismissed the creation of a specific criminal offence for clients who knowingly take advantage of the plight of victims of human trafficking. Such conduct is already punishable in accordance with § 138 Section 1 Number 6 of the German Penal Code (StGB).
Click link below to download the resolution of the Bundesrat. This resource is in German.
Photo: campsmum / Patrick Jayne and Thomas [CC-BY-2.0]