Sex Work Regulations in Germany


“Red Light Research” – Interview by Malte Kollenberg

Research Project Korea

Sex workers and allies protest in front of the South Korean Constitutional Court. © 2015 Research Project Korea. All Rights Reserved.

Sex workers and allies protest in front of the South Korean Constitutional Court.
© 2015 Research Project Korea. All Rights Reserved.


In May, I accepted an interview request by Malte Kollenberg, a freelance journalist producing a series about Germans living in South Korea for KBS World Radio. After several negative experiences with the Korean media, it was refreshing to meet a sincere journalist willing to go the extra mile to communicate before, during and after our encounter to ensure that the subject of sex work would be dealt with appropriately.

Listen to the interview in German or read the translated transcript below.

Please note that the copyright for the interview recording lies with KBS World Radio and is not licenced under a Creative Commons License.


Introduction by Malte Kollenberg

Matthias Lehmann’s research deals with a stigmatised occupation. He currently works on his dissertation about sex work…

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Guest Post: “The Talking Whore”

Reflections about Sex Work, Solidarity and Political Efficacy

After the Conference “Fantasies That Matter – Images of Sex Work in Media and Art”

I am a sex worker from Berlin and for the last two years, I’ve been an active participant in the sex workers’ rights movement. Fighting against the tightening of Germany’s prostitution legislation, which thankfully was relatively liberal so far, is crucial for me. On the weekend from August 8-10, I attended the conference “Fantasies That Matter – Images of Sex Work in Media and Art”, part of the International Summer Festival at Kampnagel in Hamburg.

As a sex worker activist, I am particularly concerned with and unhappy about the presence and lopsidedness of the prostitution myths, which are reproduced by the media. Ever since I began to engage in political work, I realised that the methodical dissemination of horror scenarios about sexual services is the main obstacle to my political goals. The public as well as the political actors, with whom we negotiate, including those who are progressive, seem to be entirely fact-resistant when faced with rational arguments, because an emotionally charged myth, exclusively fed by propaganda lies, has replaced factual analyses.

That is why I was very glad when I learnt about the “Fantasies That Matter” event. Last year, I participated and co-organised various political events by sex workers; I’m a member of the newly founded professional organisation for sex workers; I previously managed a network for sex workers myself; and I also attend a regular get-together of sex workers in Berlin. Sex worker-only spaces are essential and irreplaceable.

Images of Sex Work in Media and Art

The conference “Fantasies That Matter” was a continuation of the initiative of Missy Magazine, which greatly contributed to a more differentiated journalistic examination of the subject throughout the last year. The organisers managed to put together a cultural-scientific, political, and artistic event and embed it into the summer festival at Kampnagel, a renowned venue for cultural, dance, and theatre events. For a whole weekend, the focus was given to images of sex work in media and art.

The conference marked the first time that dominant discourses about sex work were examined in this way in a public, cultural-scientific setting. The organisers had widely distributed their invitations and the conference pass was free of charge, to reach the widest possible audience. The plan worked and the diverse members of the audience took the opportunity to question their own fantasies and projections about sex work.

I was especially grateful for the opportunity to experience pioneers of the sex workers’ rights movement live and get to know them. The memory of the encounters with Annie Sprinkle and Carol Leigh will stay with me for a long time.

In addition, there were further sex workers present on stage, delivering both speeches and performances. Some of the speeches were a little cumbersome and quite a bit distant from my own reality as a sex worker. Then again, it was the very subject of this event to look at the images that exist of my occupation, which often have little or nothing at all to do with reality.

The fact that the event was almost entirely held in English wasn’t ideal, as some of the contributions and debates were so complex, that even those with a good command of the English language had difficulties to catch it all.

Nevertheless: the conference was extremely informative and gave me new perspectives on the fatal, argumentative link between human trafficking and prostitution that is material to current debates.

The myth of the whore who gets abducted against her will – she’s almost always female – disqualifies her as an agent whose decisions need to be respected. One of the purposes of the so-called “rescue industry” is to deport people back to their native countries – “in their very best interest”.

The whore who speaks for herself, on the other hand, and who doesn’t submit to the victim discourse, is taboo. She is ignored because it is assumed that she is traumatised, abused, unable to judge the circumstances she’s in, she lies, or she’s been bribed or blackmailed by the imaginary pimp lobby. She is losing her status as a human being. If she doesn’t want to be saved, she loses her right of support. She is dangerous for those who oppose prostitution because she could point out that that sex workers are by no means all female or that she considers other measures as important to solve real existing problems, e.g. poverty, legal discrimination, stigmatisation, uncertain residence status, and many more. The talking whore who points out that prohibitions take away the basis of her livelihood without offering a better alternative must not exist. Her demands and her existence threaten the very foundation of bourgeois morality and order.

“Fantasies That Matter” provided plenty of information and good arguments that reminded me again of the nature of the propaganda machine which we are dealing with, and how the political discourse about sex work is embedded into the political order of gender, race, ethnicity and migration policies. I am glad and very grateful for the work of people who have made it their profession to deconstruct these myths.

The work of Annie Sprinkle, for example, is absolutely irreplaceable for the motivation and vision of my own type of sex work. The creative energy with which she lives, performs and spreads her feminist, sex-positive agenda, and how she links radical political activism with art, humour and passion, is time and again a source of inspiration and positive strength for me.

She vividly demonstrated again how very essential solidarity and a broad political basis are for the fight for sex workers’ rights. Among other things, Annie reported how web masters, decorators, people who book sex workers’ appointments and anyone else involved in any promotion of prostitutionrisk jail time in the US, and how there were cases where very high bails were set and these people had to spend time in jail while awaiting bail money. As a German sex worker, I find it almost unconceivable. It made it clear to me, how many cultural differences there are in the movement that I’m a part of, and how much more important it therefore is to demonstrate global solidarity with the whores’ movement.

Annie’s call for general solidarity and for the demystification of the term “sex worker” was met with broad approval from the audience.

At the closing discussion on the final day of the conference, some of my colleagues took the stage, demonstrating with their creative, performative act at this quite theoretical event how to appropriate the discourse – superb!

Only when as many of us as possible speak up and make themselves visible will our diversity ever be perceived.


After the conference, a massive wave of criticism swept through different blogs and Twitter feeds, which quickly turned into a shitstorm. Although I deem some of the criticism as important and consider it worth discussing, I find the atmosphere in those debates entirely inappropriate, untenable, and destructive.

Therefore, I like to address some of the points of contentions that appeared both during the final discussion and afterwards on social media sites.

Who can call themselves a “whore“? Sex worker – an identity?

The concluding panel discussion sparked a lively debate about the question whether or not it would be appropriate if people called themselves “whore” if they weren’t in fact sex workers themselves.

The debate was triggered by Annie Sprinkle’s call for as many people as possible to demonstrate their solidarity with sex workers who are imprisoned and threatened with repression, and to refer to themselves publicly as “whores”.

The critics, who unfortunately also hit below the belt, feel they need to maintain a sharp division here, and they go as far as to deny Annie Sprinkle her identity as a “real” sex worker. Annie Sprinkle worked for over 20 years in the sex industry and was imprisoned as a result of that. She is now working as an artist using explicit content, and because of that, she is not only threatened with further imprisonment, but also experiences hostility and even murder threats, as her work touches upon deeply ingrained moral taboos.

I can of course understand the argument that there is a difference between experiencing discrimination, violence and persecution because of working as a sex worker, and “simply” feeling and acting in solidarity. I also have no interest in seeing the term “sex worker” become the sort of fashionable or lifestyle term as is by now the case with the term “queer”.

Nevertheless, I believe that in focusing the political debate on maintaining the exclusivity of the term “sex worker”, one loses sight of the political goals of the sex worker movements, and doesn’t support them but weakens them.

By means of an example, I will once again explain how I understand Annie’s appeal and why it makes sense to me.

The conference was an initiative by Missy Magazine, the only German feminist publication that continuously defends the rights for sex workers. As a result, the magazine has lost subscribers, just like anyone in Germany who speaks out in favour of sex workers’ rights instantly loses their legitimacy to call themselves feminists due to the monopoly position of a “vulgar feminism” in Germany that is absolutely hostile to prostitution. In the United States, Missy’s work in solidarity with whores might even be considered as promoting prostitution and result in criminal prosecution. For Annie Sprinkle, this means that their work falls under her expanded definition of the term “sex work”. Therefore, the Missy women were “media whores”.

I also consider conceptualising the term “sex worker” too narrowly as problematic since it is very fragile, for various reasons.

Sex work on its own is not an identity but an occupation, which in most cases, people engage in temporarily. Strictly speaking, people thus permanently acquire and lose that status again.

Many who engage in sex work wouldn’t even call themselves sex workers. They would also not have come to this conference or attend one of the self-organised sex worker conferences. Shying away from labelling oneself a sex worker is deeply connected to the stigma that remains attached to sex work, even in Germany, over ten years after the Prostitution Act has come into force.

I am still hitting brick walls and make myself unpopular here, because I ask tantric masseurs and masseuses to declare themselves to be in solidarity with sex workers and join their movement. There’s a lot of reservation, however, because tantrics don’t wish to be mentioned in the same breath with “common prostitutes”.

In addition, the extent of the stigma follows the usual axes of discrimination: gender, ethnicity, nationality, residence status, age, class, wealth, and beauty, to name just a few.

People of colour with a German passport will make different experiences in a tantric massage parlour than their white counterparts, and both will make different experiences if they worked in a sauna club close to the Czech border. In turn, people without residence permits might not even be able to earn a lot of money in both places but work underground and without protection. But all of them would make entirely different experiences if they worked in countries where selling sexual services is criminalised.

Moreover: what are these sexual services anyway? Does it require penetrative sex? We have come to recognise webcam models, porn actors, strip dancers or erotic masseurs and masseuses as sex workers. In my own work, penetration plays only a minor role, but it falls nevertheless under the Prostitution Act and I consider myself a sex worker. What about the people who predominantly work with sexual energy, lead tantric workshops, or provide sexual assistance? We already know socially recognised occupations that deal with sexuality. In Annie’s view, people in those professions are also sex workers and I share her view.

Which notion of sexuality can a possible definition be based upon? Do we conform to definitions set out in the relevant local legislation? Or shouldn’t we acknowledge that the intensity of the prostitution debate indicates how strong the reactionary force is to maintain control over sexual and reproductive practices and to limit them?

How can we, given how diverse we are, still speak of “we”, and who are “we”?

The experience of the sex work stigma is the foundation of our sex worker community. I believe that if we understand ourselves as a political movement that agitates against this stigma, then it’s crucial to create critical awareness about that in our communities. The more people out themselves and identify as “whores”, the sooner it will become apparent, that sex work exists in the midst of our societies – not at the margins!

Sex workers and clients go to the baker’s, raise children, have relationships and pay taxes. They got friends, lovers, siblings and parents.

It must be evident how diverse “we” are and that the stigma affects some more than others, for various reasons. But I believe what we need above all is solidarity.

The relationship between „allies“ and sex workers – Why solidarity with sex workers is important for everybody

In the internal discussions following the conference the question was raised over the relationships between so-called “allies” and sex workers. The tone in some of these debates really angered me.

If we, as a political movement, do not recognise racism, sexism or the sex work stigma as problems that affect society at large, then a sufficient political force able to make an impact on our societies will never materialise.

Marginalised communities exist at the fringes of societies, but their “problem” affects everyone.

Everyone has the right to explore that, to fight that, to write about that, and to make it the subject of their artistic work!

Moreover, every person who discusses sex work publicly and in a differentiated manner runs the risk of being ostracised, and in some countries they might even get arrested. I can agree or disagree with journalists, I can contradict their assumptions or question their positions. But the reprehension of the so-called “allies” and the speculation about their motives in the debates following the conference seems hair-raising to me.

It can’t be that we silence and deny each other the legitimacy to speak. That is the same kind of censorship that is imposed on us externally. It is a matter of being heard and being visible, especially because we have different things to say.

Research about sex work that doesn’t include sex workers is certainly without foundation. Needless to say, at this conference about images of sex work in media and art, many sex workers were invited and present.

Disrespectful attacks against Carol Leigh, Annie Sprinkle and the initiators of the conference only benefit the enemies of sex work. I appeal to you to not waste any energy on pulling apart our own ranks, because currently, decisions are made that affect the lives of sex workers (and their allies) without including them in any way, not only in the German parliament but also in many other countries.

In this very moment, „whores“ in Germany are losing their status as civil citizens and will soon be forced to register with authorities. I find this alarming and our fighting spirit should be directed against that.

That is why I join in with Annie and Carol and call for: Whore solidarity worldwide.

Kristina Marlen works as a tantric dominatrix in Berlin. She majored in law and physiotherapy before she decided to focus on sex work. She gives sessions and teaches workshops about explorative sexuality. She defines herself as queer. Besides this, she’s a dancer, singer, and performer.

Translation by Matthias Lehmann. Research Project Germany. Every effort has been made to translate this interview verbatim. As a result, the wording may appear unusual on some occasions. A German version of this article is available here.

Fantasies That Matter

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About this slideshow

The above photos and the video below are impressions from the Fantasies That Matter: Images of Sex Work in Media and Art conference, which took place August 8-10, 2014 at Kampnagel in Hamburg. Due to concerns for sex workers’ privacy and anonymity on the one hand and the low light settings in the auditorium on the other, the above are mostly images of the “headliners” of the event. By no means does this represent an attempt to deliberately exclude any of the sex workers who spoke during the conference.

Please take particular notice of the image containing sex workers’ feedback to the organisers and instructions for people aiming to support sex workers. Please continue reading the articles by current and former sex workers quoted below, as well as by Mithu Sanyal, Annie Sprinkle and Verena Reygers, and check Twitter for tweets using the hashtag #fantasiesthatmatter which include quotes from the speakers and thoughts from sex workers and others in the audience.

Articles by current or former sex workers

Reflections on ‘Fantasies That Matter’ by Fornicatrix

There’s no denying good intentions are important, but what’s crucial are the actions of self-appointed allies who can end up silencing those they wish to amplify, hiding those they try to visibilise or simply unintentionally taking up too much space in a conversation where sex workers are already squeezed to the sides.

Let’s turn this into an opportunity to have an ongoing discussion about sex work, representation, identity, performance art, feminism, allyship and the countless other conversational starting points that this unforgettable conference gave us.

Be Careful With Your Hand, You Don’t Want it Bitten Off – Annie Sprinkle, Fantasies That Matter, Sex Work, and Erasure of People of Color by Peech

Conference after conference happens and personality after personality is elevated to having these super large platforms where they can speak, and there is a glaring absence of color when it comes to sex work.

Name me one person of color – and I’m not even talking about just Black people – one person of color woman, man, cis, trans, I don’t care, fat, skinny, ugly, pretty, tall, short, I don’t care. Name me one person of color who is or has been a sex worker who is a go-to personality to speak on sex work. Nobody. 

And that absence is deafening… to me. And I don’t understand particularly why that’s not a problem for more sex workers. That there is absolutely no diversity in the community as it is represented to our larger society and world. That, really and truly, we’re simply reinforcing that when you think of: a sex worker, a prostitute, a cam model, a phone sex operator, whatever, when you think of those people, you think of a white person – and it’s always a white woman.

Injustices that Matter: Reclaiming space from Allies at ‘Fantasies that Matter: Images of Sex Work in Media and Art’ (and beyond) by Eithne Crow

It’s essential to ask yourself why you’re identifying yourself as an ally, and to realise that there is no such thing as conditional allyship: if you won’t tolerate criticism or take direction, or if you require gratitude, niceties, or honorary membership from the people you’re supporting, you’re doing it wrong.

If you won’t move beyond acknowledging your power to doing something about the injustice of it, you’re not an ally. And if you indicate that you intend to withdraw your support because you feel undervalued, then I suggest you go elsewhere, because you are putting your own interests before those of the people you’re supporting, and anyone who’s more interested in the feel-good factor of ‘helping’ than actually improving the lives of others is not a loss to any liberation movement.

“The Talking Whore” Reflections about Sex Work, Solidarity and Political Efficacy by Kristina Marlen

The experience of the sex work stigma is the foundation of our sex worker community. I believe that if we understand ourselves as a political movement that agitates against this stigma, then it’s crucial to create critical awareness about that in our communities. The more people out themselves and identify as “whores”, the sooner it will become apparent, that sex work exists in the midst of our societies – not at the margins!

Sex workers and clients go to the baker’s, raise children, have relationships and pay taxes. They got friends, lovers, siblings and parents. It must be evident how diverse “we” are and that the stigma affects some more than others, for various reasons. But I believe what we need above all is solidarity.

Commentary by Mithu Sanyal

Excerpt from a comment by Mithu Sanyal, one of the panellists of the conference. Please click here to read her entire comment.

One of the critiques is that there weren’t enough people of color on the panel. Well, the point is, Germany is different from America, for example in so far as the Others here aren’t visibly black. They are Greek like Margarita, the organizer of the conference who has spend the last years watching her country going to pieces. They are Spanish like María do Mar Castro Varela , who was on the panel together with Maiz. Or they are mixed race like me, Indian and Polish. Yes, there was only one trans person on the stage, but believe me, that wasn’t for want of trying on the organizers part.

The situation is a very specific one in Germany at the moment and that is important to know. In Germany we are trying to stop the government making sex work illegal again. That was the reason fort his particular conference and that was the reason why there were sex workers and lawyers and academics on the panels. These ware all people fighting for our rights at the moment and when you look at the German newspapers they are doing a great job. Politicians listen to us. At the end of the year we will find out. That is when they decide about a new law.

Reflections on Hamburg by Annie Sprinkle

On August 19th, Annie Sprinkle published her reflections on Hamburg via Facebook. Click here to read them (no Facebook account necessary).

In retrospect, I am reminded that when it comes to “sex work,” definitions, herstories, labor issues, and problems vary a lot from country to country and person to person. I empathize with the struggle that sex workers on the front lines of the “war on whores” face today. If there is any chance of winning this war, both lovers and fighters are needed. I do wish ALL of you every success. My heart goes out to the working whores on the front lines. Take exquisite care of your selves, and each other. And please, by all means, make more art and fantasies that matter.”

“Von der Rolle” by Verena Reygers 

Commentary by Verena Reygers [in German] who participated in the ‘Ritual of Whores’. Verena Reygers is a Hamburg-based journalist and a regular contributor to Missy Magazine. Her commentary appeared in German weekly newspaper der freitag.

A project like Fantasies That Matter was deliberately held in an art space, and art is an appropriate tool to convey topics and criticism to audiences that are not part of the respective political discussions. A best case scenario will amplify the vigour to pursue the goals of those who are concerned. Or, as Annie Sprinkle says, ‘Sex work doesn’t just concern a small group of practitioners, it concerns us all.’

Video above published with kind permission by Annie Sprinkle © 2014 Matt Lemon Photography. The conference was organised by Missy Magazine in collaboration with Hamburg International Summer Festival at Kampnagel.

Photos: © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Plus de droits pour les victimes de la traite des êtres humains

UN Member States appraise Global Action Plan to combat human trafficking. Photo: United Nations

Les États membres de l’ONU évaluent le plan d’action mondial de lutte contre la traite des êtres humains. Photo: Nations Unies. Photo: Mark Garten/ONU

Please click here to read the English version of “More Rights For Victims of Human Trafficking”.

Entretien avec Heike Rabe, conseillère politique à l’Institut allemand pour les droits humains (Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte)

L’ONU appelle à une lutte mondiale contre la traite des êtres humains. En Allemagne, l’accent est mis sur la prostitution forcée.* Dans une interview réalisée par Ute Welty pour le service des actualités allemandes de, l’avocate Heike Rabe déplore le manque de données fiables. Elle ne pense pas grand bien des intentions pour resserrer la loi sur la prostitution.

S’il vous plaît notez que le droit d’auteur pour cette interview est avec et qu’elle n’est pas soumise à une licence Creative Commons.

Qui est victime de traite des êtres humains? Est-ce principalement le problème de ce qu’on appelle la prostitution forcée?

Lorsque l’on parle de traite des êtres humains aux fins d’exploitation sexuelle, il est à noter que le pourcentage de femmes en provenance des pays de l’UE est en augmentation. C’est parce que l’UE ne cesse de croître. Ce sont souvent des femmes qui viennent soit en Allemagne par leurs propres moyens pour une variété d’entièrement différentes raisons ou qui sont amenées en Allemagne. Certaines de ces femmes ne veulent pas travailler dans la prostitution, d’autres rencontrent des conditions de travail indignes. L’Allemagne est un pays de destination et de transit pour la traite des personnes.

Quand il s’agit de traite des êtres humains, l’attention des médias se concentre particulièrement sur ​​le sujet de la prostitution forcée. Est-ce que cela correspond aux faits?

Non, les vérités qui sont diffusées par les médias ne sont pas des vérités vérifiables empiriquement. Il n’existe aucune preuve que l’Allemagne est le plus grand bordel de l’Europe. Il n’existe aucune preuve que les prostituées sont également toujours victimes de la traite humaine. Et il n’y a aucune preuve que la loi sur la prostitution de l’année 2002 est à blâmer pour cela. Le fait est, cependant: que les mesures qui sont examinées en ce qui concerne la révision imminente de cette loi restreignent les droits des prostituées. Ils comprennent, par exemple, des contrôles sanitaires obligatoires.

«Transfert de la prostitution dans la vie économique»

À votre avis, quelle devrait être la révision à accomplir?

Je crois que c’est un défi de taille pour une loi sur la prostitution d’avoir à lutter contre la traite des êtres humains. Initialement, la loi sur la prostitution de 2002 visait à améliorer les conditions de travail, et par l’intermédiaire d’une retraite et de droits à l’assurance sociale, une protection sociale des prostituées qui ont décidé volontairement ce travail. À mon avis, il est nécessaire de poursuivre ce processus: un transfert complet de la prostitution dans la vie économique, sur un pied d’égalité avec d’autres domaines d’activité.

Les victimes de la traite des êtres humains en Allemagne

Victims of Human Trafficking in Germany 2008-2012

Les rapports annuels par le Bureau pénal fédéral (BKA) parlent de victimes. Comme l’explique Rabe, cependant, les chiffres représentent en fait des enquêtes préliminaires dont les résultats ne sont pas connus.

Suite à une enquête menée par le groupe parlementaire du Parti de gauche, le gouvernement fédéral a annoncé que l’année dernière, 625 personnes ont été victimes de traite des êtres humains aux fins d’exploitation sexuelle; une légère augmentation par rapport à 2012. Quelle est l’importance de ce chiffre?

Ce chiffre provient du rapport de l’Office pénal fédéral qui est établi annuellement et basé sur les statistiques de la police. Par conséquent, il ne représente pas les cas avérés, mais les victimes potentielles, dont les cas ont été étudiés. Ces enquêtes sont menées par la police, puis remis au bureau du procureur et les tribunaux. Par conséquent, le rapport ne donne aucune information quant à savoir si une enquête a mené à une charge ou même une condamnation.

En outre, la traite humaine est une «infraction dite de contrôle ». La police découvre une traite des êtres humains que lorsque leurs experts sont à la recherche de celle-ci. Ceux touchés en général ne contactent pas les autorités par eux-mêmes. Nous ne pouvons même pas supposer qu’il y a vraiment un nombre élevé de cas non déclarés. Cela ne signifie pas, cependant, que la situation ne serait pas dramatique. Nous ne savons tout simplement pas.

“La traite des êtres humains est une violation des droits humains”

Est-ce que la traite des êtres humains aux fins d’exploitation sexuelle implique toujours de la prostitution forcée?

J’évite d’utiliser le terme de «prostitution forcée», parce qu’en Allemagne, la prostitution est un métier qu’on peut poursuivre légalement et comme emploi salarié – comme pour d’autres employeurs et employés. La traite des êtres humains aux fins d’exploitation sexuelle est une violation des droits humains. Elle se produit lorsque l’intégrité sexuelle des femmes est bafouée et qu’elles ne peuvent pas se libérer d’une situation désespérée. Mais quand les prostituées sont «juste» mal payées, cela constitue une exploitation dans la prostitution. Cette différenciation est importante, pour que les lois, les règlements et les mesures soient efficaces.

Journée internationale de protestation contre la violence faite aux travailleurs du sexe. Photo: Marek Foeller.  Tous les droits sont réservés.

Protestation mondiale pour mettre fin à la violence contre les travailleuses du sexe. Photo: Marek Foeller. Tous les droits sont réservés.

Toute prostituée n’est pas une victime de la traite humaine. Néanmoins, il est prévu de renforcer la loi sur la prostitution pour lutter contre la traite des êtres humains.

En ce qui concerne la traite des personnes, quels domaines considérez-vous comme tout autant problématique, mais pas discuté de manière adéquate?

La traite des êtres humains aux fins d’exploitation par le travail, par exemple, fait partie du Code criminel depuis 2005. Mais les structures pour la combattre sont encore tout simplement absentes. En ce qui concerne l’exploitation sexuelle, il existe des réseaux dans presque tous les États fédéraux, où les ONG et les organismes gouvernementaux coopèrent. Le «Groupe de travail fédéral / Länder sur la traite humaine» joue un rôle similaire au niveau fédéral. Mais ces groupes ne traitent pas de la question de l’exploitation du travail.

«Où va l’argent?»

La traite des êtres humains est une grande entreprise à l’échelle mondiale, dont on dit qu’elle génère jusqu’à 40 milliards de dollars par an. Pensez-vous que ce chiffre est réaliste?

Il est difficile de vérifier ce montant. Je ne peux pas vérifier non plus les marges incroyablement élevées de profit qui sont mentionnés dans le cadre de la traite des personnes. Les comparaisons sont toujours faites avec les bénéfices d’armes ou le trafic de drogue. Je me demande où va tout cet argent. Lorsque les personnes touchées font valoir leurs droits devant les tribunaux, de recevoir une compensation, des dommages-intérêts pour les souffrances et douleurs, ou la perte de salaire, alors il n’y a soudainement plus d’argent.

De temps en temps, des femmes dans de telles procédures se voient accordés quelques milliers d’euros. Ce n’est rien par rapport à ce qu’elles devraient légalement avoir droit, si elles ont fourni des services à des clients pendant des années ou ont été victimes de viols pendant des années. La lutte contre la traite des êtres humains doit donc également considérer les aspects de propriété. Les autorités répressives pourraient par exemple obtenir ou confisquer les avoirs provenant d’activités criminelles.

«Améliorer la protection des victimes»

Cela signifie que, ce qui se passe en ce moment n’est pas suffisant?

Je peux imaginer diverses mesures qui vont au-delà de la simple application de la loi. La protection des victimes, par exemple, n’est pas assez bien développée. Les femmes qui ne sont pas de l’UE et qui n’ont pas un permis de séjour régulier doivent généralement quitter l’Allemagne immédiatement, si elles sont ramassées dans un bordel ou dans la rue.

Elles ne sont autorisées à rester, que si et aussi longtemps qu’elles coopèrent et témoignent contre les délinquants dans les procédures pénales. Cependant, cela peut prendre deux, trois ans, jusqu’à ce qu’un procès conclut. Pendant ce temps, les femmes sont laissées sans aucune perspective, sans emploi, et sans leur famille, pour ensuite, après la fin du procès, devoir partir de toute façon. Dites-moi, qui chercherait l’aide des autorités appliquant la loi dans une telle situation?

Heike Rabe, Policy Adviser at the German Institute for Human Rights. Photo: German Institute for Human Rights/S. PietschmannHeike Rabe

Heike Rabe est une avocate qualifiée et depuis 2009 associée de recherche à l’Institut allemand pour les droits humains. De 2009 à la mi-2013, elle a dirigé le projet «Le travail forcé aujourd’hui – Autonomisation des personnes victimes de la traite». Depuis début 2014, elle se concentre sur l’accès à la justice pour les victimes de la traite des êtres humains et de la violence fondée sur le sexe.

Photo: Institut allemand pour les droits humains/S. Pietschmann

L’interview a été réalisée par Ute Welty pour, un service d’actualités par l’ARD, un réseau de télévision de service public allemand. S’il vous plaît notez que le droit d’auteur pour cette interview est avec et n’est pas soumis à une licence Creative Commons.

Traduction par Matthias Lehmann (anglais) et Thierry Schaffauser (français). Tous les efforts ont été faits pour traduire cette interview in extenso. En conséquence, le libellé peut paraître insolite à certaines occasions. Les photos ci-dessus ne figurent pas dans l’article original.

*La prostitution forcée

Puisque le terme «prostitution forcée» est contesté, l’auteur le met habituellement entre guillemets. Pour cette traduction, ils sont ajoutés là où ils apparaissent dans le texte original.

«La prostitution forcée n’existe pas. La prostitution est une prestation de service sexuel volontaire qui repose sur le principe du consentement mutuel entre les partenaires contractuels adultes. Sans cette autorisation, il n’y a pas de prostitution mais de la sexualité forcée, à savoir de la violence sexuelle.» Communiqué de presse du Task Force fédéral sur la loi et la prostitution, le 14 Mars, 2005