Friday, November 1, 2013

The joy of lobbying for a good cause

Der Spiegel carries a probing interview with the spokesperson of the Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services – a newly founded lobbying group for prostitutes in Germany (brothel owners can join, too, but only if “they themselves are working or have worked as a prostitute”). Her profile says she was trained as a precision engineer, tried sex work while acquiring that kind of education, and has not yet given it up at 45. The new association will fight a misguided draft law which “lumps prostitution together with human trafficking,” contains some misguided new restrictions on the sex industry, and could force many brothels to close down. For this purpose, the lobbying group will work to correct “the public perception that thousands of women in Germany are being forced into prostitution.” Instead, the German public will be educated that “there are many good, clean brothels, and most of the women do these jobs independently and voluntarily.”

All this is a perhaps a bit surprising. Who would think that even in Germany “prostitution” has not yet been accepted as a legitimate career choice, or even a path to female empowerment? Twelve years after the previous governing “Red-Green” coalition passed the current permissive law, and after some German cities have installed machines (resembling parking meters) allowing prostitutes to make a modest daily contribution to the tax authorities? Meanwhile, the new association will work to extend the same opportunities, as well as existing legal protections and social benefits, to migrant sex worker. They have already set up a working group for that purpose “led by a Bulgarian colleague.”