Prostitution, no job like any other

(Translation of: Prostitution, kein Beruf wie jeder andere) (netzwerkB is an independent support group for people affected by sexualized violence. Those affected by the violence promote the rights of others in the same situation – by ending public silence.) netzwerkB supports the abolition of the current law on prostitution and the introduction of the “abolitionist principle”. The commercial “acquisition” of a body is an expression of violence and power and thus it should be despised. In Germany prostitution is dealt with according to the “regulation principle”. This can be found in the law on prostitution, the “law on regulating the legal situation of the prostitutes” – ProstG in short. The law came into effect on 1 Jan 2002. “Regulation principle” vs. “abolitionist principle” We have one of the most liberal laws on prostitution worldwide, and it follows the so-called “regulation principle”. It accepts prostitution and places it under the control of the state. “Ddecriminalization” means that we are now dealing with “sex work” that counts as common employment or paid work, ever since this law became effective. Contrary to that, the “abolitionist principle” aims on the one hand at not criminalizing prostitutes while on the other hand punishing all acts that are part of prostitution such as pimping or the running of brothels. In addition it would also be possible – as has been successfully implemented in Sweden since 1999 – to criminalize the johns. A result of this approach has been that prostitution and trafficking have declined significantly. In Sweden children learn very early, in primary school, that it is wrong to buy sex with women. There are various mechanisms that push people into the “mill” of prostitution A number of factors, such as e.g. the hope to free oneself from often dreary prospects in life, play a large role. Poverty, the experience of exploitation, the experience of sexualized and other forms of violence in their first families are among the conditions which the girls and women, but also the boys and men, hope to be able to leave behind. Often there are false promises like that of being permitted to work as waitresses or dancers which lure especially women from Eastern Europe into Germany, a country they don‟t know and in which they become prostitutes. They then find themselves in the vicious circle of power and powerlessness that are also part of prostitution, a vicious circle that can be found in violence of all kinds and which they had actually hoped to leave. Known patterns of survival with protitutes People who have gone through sexualized violence, just as the victims of other forms of violence during childhood, often develop internal strategies in order to deal with the violence they experience in order to survive.

For example, they idolize the perpetrators from their childhood, since it would be unbearable for children to realize that the person they must both trust and are utterly dependent on is not trustworthy, but is on the contrary inflicting damage on them. As long as this idolizing of the perpetrators can‟t be resolved, it can be kept up for a very long period of time, possibly even for a lifetime. As often happens with the victims of sexualized and other violence, the victims as adults are often no longer themselves aware of the traumatic emotional injuries they have sustained, sometimes at a very early age. In order to survive they have repressed the traumatic experiences, redefined them or are denying them in some form or other, only to be able to survive. Later this idolizing is transferred to the „successors‟ to the perpetrator from childhood. Prostituted women are then for example blind to reality, blind to the promises of the traffickers, the pimps and possibly of the johns. Drug and alcohol addiction do not only lead to prostitution, they are also employed by the prostitutes to be able to stand what prostitution is doing to their bodies and their souls. The splitting off of their own body – possibly already practiced in childhood to live through the sexualized and other various forms of abusive violence – is one way of no longer realizing what is being experienced by the body every single day. Cycle of dependencies Often horrendous rents are being demanded for the use of the rooms „protected‟ by the pimps, the rooms in which the prostitutes serve the johns. The pimps have to be paid off through a high number of sexual services and often the prostitutes aren‟t able to do that. Pushed and tied up into debt and other dependencies, it can become very difficult even for allegedly voluntary prostitutes ever to rid themselves of this fatal cycle. Many prostitutes have never known a different, normal, truly self-determined life at all. We promote the abolition of the current law and the introduction of the “abolition principle”. We are convinced that legalizing the purchase of a body cannot be reconciled with human dignity, let alone all the risks of a prostituted life like for example extreme violence, STDs, HIV and also unwanted pregnancies. During the discussions about the legalization of prostitution phrases like “free choice” and “selfhood” or “self-determination” were highly praised. In the context of prostitution we view them as rather bold if not absurd propositions. Prostitution lives on the exploitation of women and men, girls and boys, who – often traumatized as children – do not find a way out of the cycles of sexualized violence and out of the imbalance of power. The decriminalization of the prostitutes themselves was badly overdue, and it was an important signal. To decriminalize prostitution itself and its “businesses” however, is in direct opposition to the human dignity of the prostitutes. Currently people can be exploited and degraded legally. In addition, prostitution often takes place in the environment of organized crime and thus in the vicinity of the “business branches” of the incredible torment of child prostitution and child pornography. The only ones to profit from the current “regulation principle” are organized and unorganized criminals and the johns and not the majority of female and male prostitutes.

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