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Prostitution: Why Corona makes the life of prostitutes even harder

Mimi has done it everywhere. In the brothel, in the hotel, on the Internet, in studios and private apartments. Only on the line, it wasn't there. Mimi's name isn't really Mimi. She is in her mid 30s and has sold her body for five years. At university she started with older men. They wanted her young body, she needed their money. Mimi also had other names that she gave to the men. Maybe Kathi or Sophie. She has short blonde hair, is neither tall nor short. That's how she describes herself on the phone. “I am inconspicuous. I could be a mom from the playground. ”The men would have told her that she was friendly.

Mimi stopped at the end of 2019. Before Corona came across the country. The pandemic has also driven into the sex store business. The brothels are closed, prostitutes are not allowed to work. The drive and the desire therefore do not cease. You can still buy sex. Today Mimi helps women who want to get out of prostitution. She does this at the Sisters association, which is active in several cities, including Berlin, where Mimi lives. At first glance, it seems like a good opportunity to get out. It's not allowed anyway. But it's not that easy. The pimps want to keep earning money and put the prostitutes under pressure. But they cannot simply register as unemployed and apply for support. Most women come from Eastern Europe, are in the hands of pimps and would get lost in the German welfare state bureaucracy. You would have to earn money differently, just how? “You ask yourself the one question: Who is hiring a hooker anyway?” Says Mimi.

The prices in prostitution have fallen due to Corona

Corona has made the life of prostitutes even tougher. In the first wave, customers stayed away because they did not want to be infected with the virus. In order to somehow get some money, they went down with the prices to attract the men whose lust was greater than the fear of infection. The laws of the market work very efficiently. The price of sex has not gone up again, adding to the plight of prostitutes. Similar problems are also evident in the region.

The Diakonie as one of the large social organizations considers the situation to be alarming. “Many of you have literally fallen into a black hole. They are completely destitute, continue to prostitute themselves in secret and have to get involved in a lot, ”says the board member for social policy, Maria Loheide. All over Germany, 40,000 prostitutes have registered, as stipulated by law. In fact, there are probably ten times more. This is how an estimate that is mentioned again and again works. How many there really are and how the pandemic has affected the sex business, nobody knows. Maybe it's gotten smaller, it hasn't gone away.

Diakonie calls for a round table for prostitution

Loheide calls for a round table on prostitution to be convened to help the women, but also the few men and transsexuals. The federal government, representatives of the federal states, the police, the health service, social associations and prostitutes themselves should come together. Loheide's most urgent demand is to open social welfare and health insurance. "Corona has drastically worsened the lives of many prostitutes," says Loheide. More local social workers are needed and, above all, mobile teams who go where sex is sold despite the ban.

The women do their work in an outhouse

Kurfürstenstrasse in Berlin is such a place. There is the street prostitute in the old west of the city. In order to contain Corona, it should actually be orphaned. But it is not, on the contrary. “Do you feel like it, do you have time?” The prostitutes call out to you. You are from Hungary. The Hungarian section is the largest. Of course there are also Romanians and Bulgarians, prostitutes and transsexuals. The line is not limited to Kurfürstenstrasse, but extends over a number of side streets. The police send a patrol car through the area several times a day. Then they diverge offering their bodies. There are young, beautiful bodies among them, but also emaciated and worn ones. Sex is a mundane thing here. The city has set up execution boxes. These are little houses made of wood. There's a loo inside. It smells like urine, there are condoms lying around and toilet paper. Still, that doesn't deter a man in his 30s. He disappears into the shed with two very blond Hungarian women in tight white trousers. His buddy is waiting outside. After five minutes the act is over, the customer buttons up his trousers.

“The two men are sure to go out for a kebab now,” says Gerhard Schönborn. He is a rock for those who kill prostitution. On Mondays he has a small stand on Kurfürstenstrasse. There is coffee, water and something to eat. From the meeting point, which is closed due to the pandemic, he gets fresh clothes when they are needed. A toothless prostitute in a red dress asks for a sleeping bag. She speaks broken German, she has put her belongings in a shopping trolley that she pushes through the streets. Schönborn can't help her this time. He no longer has a sleeping bag. For 16 years he's been helping prostitutes get through or get off. The man with the short gray hair is chairman of the Neustart association. Schönborn knows the milieu. He observes that Corona has weakened the position of women. “Despite the ban, there is a large supply on the street. The prices are in the basement. "

Some demand punishments for the suitors

Women addicted to drugs or homeless women can do it for ten euros. The normal price for sex is 30 to 40 euros. That's how Schönborn tells it. Oral satisfaction costs 20 euros. “When they are new, the women from Eastern Europe get a note. Then they can read to the suitors what it costs. ”The women's helper agrees with the Diakonie that the prostitutes must now be helped quickly. But it doesn't go far enough for him: He wants Germany to follow the example of Sweden. There clients who buy sex are punished. “I used to be critical of the sex purchase ban myself. But it has changed attitudes towards prostitution in Sweden, ”says Schönborn.

The ex-prostitute Mimi puts it differently. For them there is no equal society when people are allowed to consume other people. Maria Loheide also wants to push prostitution back as far as possible. She does not believe in the effect of the punishment of the suitor. She is sure that business would simply disappear further into the shadowy zones of society. “Prostitution doesn't just stop when you ban it,” she says. Gerhard Schönborn, the rock of the line women, rocks his head. No, prostitution will probably never be eradicated - no matter which laws apply.

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