Barbara Kavemann, Heike Rabe (2007): The Act Regulating the Legal Situation of Prostitutes – implementation, impact, current developments. Findings of a study on the impact of the German Prostitution Act
The entry into force of the Prostitution Act at the beginning of 2002 was a milestone in the political discussion on improving the legal position and social situation of prostitutes in Germany that had gone on for decades.
This paper sets out the key findings of a comprehensive study on the impact of the German Prostitution Act. The study was commissioned by the BMFSFJ (Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth) and carried out by an independent research institute1 from 2004 to 2006. When the Act came into force in 2002, the German Bundestag instructed the Federal Government to carry out a study after two years to look at the impact of the new regulatory situation. The Federal Government’s report, which was submitted in 2007 and is also available in English, was based on this study.2
The German Federal Government places its policy on prostitution in the context of stepping up efforts to prosecute trafficking in human beings and correspondingly its conclusions prioritise better protection of victims of trafficking in human beings and protection of minors. It also stresses the importance of helping people to get out of prostitution.
In this summary of our study, we shall focus on the question of social security and working conditions for prostitutes. We see not only the combating of trafficking in human beings as a human rights issue, but also the tackling of working conditions that are harmful to health, unacceptable or dangerous. At stake here are the rights of those women and men who earn their living through prostitution based on an autonomous, rational decision and to some extent conditioned by serious personal difficulties such as violent backgrounds, predicaments such as debt, or very limited options caused by social exclusion, unemployment or social cleavages resulting from the EU enlargement. They are confronted with widespread discrimination and have no lobby unless they come into the “victim of trafficking” category. In the course of our study, we interviewed a large number of prostitutes about their life situations and what they expect of the Act. We would like this paper to give them a voice.
Our intent is to make our findings available for international discussion; we have placed them in the context of political developments in Germany and compared them with regulations in other European countries.