In a significant shift in policy, German political leaders, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, are advocating for a ban on prostitution in Germany.
This move comes as a response to the increasing issues associated with the sex trade. Scholz expressed his disapproval of the practice, stating, "I find it unacceptable that men buy women."
Since the legalization of prostitution in 2002, Germany has become a hotspot for sex tourism, a fact highlighted by Norwegian newspaper Børsen.
Dorothee Bär, the parliamentary vice-chairwoman of CDU and CSU, is one of the most vocal critics of the current legislation. She cites the extreme abuse suffered by sex workers at the hands of clients and pimps as a primary concern, declaring, "Germany has turned into Europe's brothel."
The 2002 law provided certain benefits to sex workers, such as health insurance and the ability to sue non-paying clients.
However, CDU, the opposition party, argues that these rights have not been sufficiently utilized, rendering the law ineffective.
The proposed change in law seeks to emulate the Nordic model followed by Sweden and Norway, where purchasing sex is illegal, but the sale of sex by prostitutes is not penalized.
Sweden pioneered this approach in 1999, and Norway followed suit a decade later. In contrast, Denmark maintains the legality of buying sex services from individuals over 18 years old, barring coercion or exploitation, which is classified as pandering and punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
Chancellor Scholz has raised concerns about the current law, highlighting issues such as violence, exploitation, and criminal structures bred by prostitution. He urges political action to address these problems.
However, there is no consensus within the German government on changing the prostitution laws. Family Minister Lisa Paus of the Greens believes it is premature for such a change, noting that the last amendment in 2017, aimed at improving sex workers' rights, is still under evaluation until 2025.