Last week, protests took place outside the parliament building in Berlin, as well as in Hamburg’s red light district last night, July 11, with those involved in the industry fighting to make their arguments heard.
Brothels shut down in mid-March in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus, but as countries begin to ease their strict lockdown policies and heavy restrictions, sex workers believe they should be able to welcome back customers.
See footage from the protests below:
Sex work is legal in Germany, and with shops, restaurants and bars all now able to open their doors, sex workers believe they are being singled out and deprived of their livelihoods. Sex work has been allowed to resume in neighbouring states, such as Switzerland and Austria.
Workers argue they do not pose a greater health risk than in other establishments, and some protesters held signs pointing out, ‘We are hygiene professionals.’
According to RT, the Professional Association for Erotic and Sexual Service Providers (BeSD) commented:
Sadly, sex workers, who are particularly familiar with hygiene and protective measures, are apparently not being treated as someone who can responsibly handle protection against the coronavirus in Germany.
The association pointed out that ‘hairdressers, massage parlours, beauty salons… fitness studios, tattoo shops, saunas, restaurants and hotels have been allowed to reopen’, but sex workers ‘seem to have been forgotten by politicians’.
One woman at the protest held a sign saying, ‘The oldest profession needs your help,’ as she stood in the window of a brothel that had been flooded with red light after weeks of darkness, Reuters reports.
Last night’s demonstration was organised by the Association of Sex Workers, which says the continued closure of licensed premises is forcing some sex workers to take to the streets in an effort to make money. While working in brothels is legal, offering services on the street is illegal, as well as being far more dangerous and unhygienic.
In a statement, the association said:
Prostitution does not carry a greater risk of infection than other close-to-body services, like massages, cosmetics or even dancing or contact sports. Hygiene is part of the business in prostitution.
The organisation also argued that brothels could easily incorporate pandemic safety measures adopted by other industries, including the use of face masks, keeping premises well ventilated and recording visitors’ contact details.