The Effects of Legalization: Prominent Trauma Experts Make the Case on the Harms of Prostitution in Germany
Over a decade after its decision to legalize the industry of prostitution, Germany is now known as a world capital for the commercial sex industry. What began as a short-sighted experiment to regulate harmful conditions for women in prostitution is now fostering a booming sex trade, including sex tourism and sex trafficking, generating profits at a reported €15 billion (roughly $19 billion). With a population of approximately 400,000 individuals - overwhelmingly women - in prostitution, Germany must reassess its decriminalization framework.
Germany’s leading feminist magazine, EMMA, continues to examine the situation in its September/October 2014 issue as the government is yet again coming under pressure by sex industry lobbyists to deregulate prostitution even further. Among the pieces published by EMMA is a petition calling for the abolition of prostitution written and signed by prominent trauma experts who have worked with women bought and sold in prostitution. These mental health providers are convinced, through the counseling of their patients, that prostitution cannot be considered a “normal” occupation. According to Dr. Michaela Huber, Head of the German Society for Trauma and Dissociation, “prostitution is in no way a job like any other. It is degrading, torturous, exploitative.”
These mental health and trauma counselors are advocating for awareness of the realities of sex trafficking and legalized prostitution in Germany and its devastating effects on women. They have initiated the "Stopp Sexkauf" (Stop the Purchase of Sex) initiative, composed of a coalition of advocates and experts demanding that “johns,” or buyers of commercial sex, be held accountable. The trauma experts are also calling for prevention measures against commercial sexual exploitation, including abolishing prostitution. In addition, they are urging Germany to enact the Nordic Model - a legal framework that penalizes the demand for commercial sex and the pipeline fueling the industry, while simultaneously decriminalizing persons in prostitution. Initiated in Sweden in 1999, the Nordic Model was adopted by Iceland and Norway with documented positive results, including tackling sex trafficking.
CATW applauds EMMA and the trauma therapists who are taking a stand against prostitution, calling for an end to demand for commercial sex and working to protect those who have been exploited in the sex industry.
You can sign the petition calling for the enactment of the Nordic Model in Germany. Also, mental health experts around the world can join their colleagues in Germany and take a stand in highlighting the harms of prostitution in their own countries.
September/October 2014 EMMA article (in German): TraumatherapeutInnen gegen Prostitution!
English Translation: German psychologists and the scientific case against prostitution
French Translation: Manifeste des traumathérapeutes allemands
Spanish Translation: Terapeutas alemanes contra la prostitución!