13:53 GMT +316 June 2019
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    Safety or Stigmatization? Germany Introduces New Prostitution Laws

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    Berlin has initiated new stricter laws regulating prostitution in the country, and sex workers and their supporters are concerned.

    Under a new set of laws purported to, in part, mitigate widespread human trafficking in the northern European country, Germany has instituted additional regulations and controls, as well as increasing penalties for malfeasance, according to Deutsche Welle.

    The new laws, which went into effect July 1, will decrease profitability while increasing scrutiny for sex workers, according to industry observers.

    Claiming that it was "harder to open up a snack bar than a brothel in this country," a former German Minister of Family Affairs presented the new laws a year ago, following consistent reporting by sex workers of humiliating conditions and little to no workplace inspections by health officials or law enforcement, dw.com reported.

    Under the new laws, all sex workers are compelled to register and receive an ID card to practice their trade, as well as undergo a comprehensive medical consultation.

    The new laws will include additional future legislation requiring brothels to obtain an operating permit, which will be granted only if health, hygiene and other standards are met, according to dw.com.

    Stipulations are included in the new laws that prohibit the servicing of more than one client at a time by a single sex worker, and they flatly forbid any physical penetration without the use of a condom.

    In a move seen to be an attempt to limit what has been reported as widespread human and sex trafficking in Germany in the wake of an ongoing migrant crisis, any paying client that knowingly participates in a sex act with a trafficking victim will be liable for heavy fines and possible prison sentences.

    Fear of being registered as a sex worker is strong within the prostitution industry.

    "Panic is spreading," said a counselor at Dortmund's Mitternachtsmission, an organization assisting women who leave the industry, who added that sex workers cannot "get around with this ID," and will have to quit.

    "Why can't women simply go to the tax authorities and register there?" stated the counselor, cited by dw.com, as "registration at the local government office leads to the stigmatization and criminalization of women."

    Sex workers will again be forced to go underground, the report asserted, descending into illegality and criminal activity.

    Currently, under an existing set of German laws touted as emancipating prostitutes, an estimated one percent of sex workers in the country have signed a legal work contract.

    An overwhelming majority of Berlin-regulated health insurance plans and pensions do not acknowledge prostitution as a legal profession, and thus do not honor the letter of the national law.

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    human trafficking, sexual explotation, prostitution, Germany, Berlin
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