In April, we attended the 3rd World Congress Against the Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls in Mainz, Germany. For three days, CAP International, its member organization SOLWODI and Armut und Gesundheit e.V. welcomed the German and global abolitionist movement to the college town about 40 minutes outside of Frankfurt am Main to shine a spotlight on the realities of prostitution and sexual exploitation.
The congress opened with a Survivors’ Day to welcome the arrival of the women, led by Rosen Hicher, who had undertaken the 207 km Survivors’ March from Strasbourg to Mainz. Many advocates from all over the world joined them in solidarity for the last leg of the march from Mainz Central Station, past one of the legal brothels in the city, to the French Institute, where the survivor leaders spoke to the media. We called for an end to the buying, selling and sexual exploitation of women and girls and the enactment of the Equality Model in Germany.
The next two days of panels addressed the realities of the sex trade, including its long-term physical and mental health harms, and the national and international legislative and policy changes necessary to make sexual exploitation a thing of the past. Also, spotlighted: the birth, growth and continued development of the German abolitionist movement, whose energy permeated the room. The event culminated with the launch of the Mainzer Erklärung or the Mainz Call, an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel asking for a meeting with German and international abolitionist organizations to discuss the consequences of Germany’s legalized sex trade. We were among the signatories.