Coronavirus and Prostitution – urgent!

author: Huschke Mau

translation: Inge Kleine

Dear friends,

As an ex-prostitute there’s something I urgently want to tell you. Because other women in prostitution can’t do it right now. That’s because they are currently busy with something else …

… with surviving.

Corona has a tight grip on our social lives right now, and I welcome all measures by the government and by the states that have been taken now (even if very late), and hope you are all reasonable and isolate as much as possible not to endanger older people, those with immune-deficiency, cancer, other prior illnesses, etc. We now have to show solidarity, above all solidarity to the vulnerable. And that is precisely who I want to speak about now. Because women in prostitution, and I belong among them, too are a vulnerable group and the question is, which measures can now count as solidarity with regard to this group.

The City of Stuttgart has just now PROHIBITED prostitution because of the Corona-virus, and before you cheer and clap: this is a catastrophe.

I’ll explain why:

Like almost everywhere, prostitution in Stuttgart consists by 80% to 90% of women from South-Eastern Europe in forced prostitution or prostitution out of poverty. These women often have

  • No health insurance, or very inadequate insurance
  • Obviously no employee status or a very inadequate one
  • Very often no entitlement to any welfare or social benefits (HartzIV)

These women, as well as the vast majority of German women in prostitution, are there by force and poverty. If they don’t do it today, they won’t have any money tomorrow, nothing to eat – and nowhere to live.

What will happen in Stuttgart now is that these women either can’t afford to stay out of prostitution, or anyway aren’t permitted to because of their pimps. They’ll do it clandestinely, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO CHOICE. And that is the sticking point here. They’ll have to do it, and if caught, they’ll be fined. The fines collected by the state which they then have to pay off in instalments mean more money they’ll have to make with more prostitution, AS THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE. And by the way, the rent for the rooms in the brothels is likely to remain the same these days just like on all other days. That means: the fines and the rent will add up to even worse debts incurred by these women than what they already have to deal with, and that means they will be even LESS ABLE TO EXIT PROSTITUTION THAN NOW.  And: they will expose themselves to even worse health risks in these times of enforced secret prostitution. Because the dough’s gotta be made. For food, rent, pimp, and the children in Romania. And that means: Since many johns are staying away anyway, johns have more power and can more easily insist on sex without condoms.

Does this look like protection? DEFINITELY NOT.

So please do not rejoice when you read this news. Because it is terrible for the women affected.

What would really help?

What would help is to implement the Nordic Model locally, as a measure to slow down this pandemic and to protect women in prostitution. That means: punish the punters and grant exit support to the women, at least allow them financial security that will at least make it POSSIBLE for them to take a break from prostitution! This is a fact: most women in prostitution are there because they have NO ALTERNATIVES. To take away this LAST way of making money is not going to help them at all.

No single woman will be able to exit prostitution because of this crisis. For this crisis is not suddenly opening up a thousand other options for these women. On the contrary: their situation is sh*te because they are in prostitution. Their situation has now become even more sh*te, because they are in prostitution and we are facing a pandemic. Their situation is peak sh*te, because they are in prostitution, we are facing a pandemic, and they are being deprived of the last possibility to keep alive financially WITHOUT ANY OTHER OPTION PROVIDED.

In this situation prohibition is the worst that anyone can do, because it adds hunger and homelessness to the prostitution and the exposure to a pandemic for these women!  

This would have been the chance to implement the Nordic Model locally, and to have the women exit prostitution SAFELY AND IN A SECURED MANNER, even if only temporarily in some cases.

So. Please enact solidarity. Please do not applaud and cheer when you see your cities now prohibiting prostitution because we’re going through a pandemic. Please INFORM YOUR CITY OFFICES when they enact a prohibition of prostitution and WRITE TO THEM, tell them they are endangering the women!

These women have no security anywhere, in any areas!

They have a right to an alternative, to financial safety, in order to be able to exit!

Anything different means nothing but a “driving them into a corner and worsening the situation”.

It’s AGAINST PROSTITUTION.

It’s NEVER against the prostitutes.

Now is the time to show solidarity. With EVERYBODY, especially and definitely with those who have the fewest rights here! It is these groups precisely who need MORE rights: who is going to pay for the treatment of prostituted women from Romania if they become infected? Who is going to take charge that they don’t lose shelter now or starve? This is not the time for even fewer rights by taking away the last right Germany has generously granted them: that of prostituting themselves. 

Their situation is NOT comparable to people who now have to bear some discomfort or who go through a loss of earnings, but who have some financial security, savings or a right to income, to money.

Anyone saying: “But I’m not allowed to work now, either” is being cynical and ignorant!

A PROHIBITION of prostitution is ALWAYS hostile to those in prostitution.

The Nordic Model can be implemented LOCALLY!

There’s a finalized model and road map for this already!

And it is that which now has to be implemented!

NOW is the time!

Solidarity!

Write to your local administrative offices and protest against the prohibition of prostitution! It makes much more sense to demand this: 

  • Punishment of johns and brothel keepers for violating these measures!
  • Putting up accommodation containers to shelter women who lose their rooms, be that in a brothel or arranged by a brothel!
  • Handing out food!
  • An emergency fund to pay out cash (emergency money, emergency cash)!
  • Urgent: the assurance that medical emergency costs and medical treatment will be provided!

Thank you for your engagement, together we can do it!

Yours, Huschke