in germany


The literature reviewing prostitution in Germany is exceedingly diverse and profoundly dependant on the author’s personal convictions and view point. Scientific data and information about the situation in Germany are disturbingly inadequate. For example, there is no consensus figure showing the number of women working in prostitution. The “Bundesrat” (Federal Council) concludes that there are 150,000 to 700,000 individuals in prostitution (2017, p.1). While other estimations show that there are about 1,000,000 men and women in prostitution in Germany (Schwarzer, 2013, p. 8 / Stracke, 2018, min. 5). Kavemann and Steffan predict there are 64,000 to 200,000 and highly doubt any larger estimates (2013, p. 2).

In 2002 a new law was passed making working in prostitution in Germany not unethical (Sittenwidrig). This allowed people working in prostitution rights such as the chance to sue for their wages and access to social security (Domentat, 2003, p. 11). The new law was supposed to decrease crime, improve the conditions of work and establish prostitution as a sexual service as business transaction (Stracke, 2017, min. 6). The decriminalization caused a substantial growth in the prostitution industry, resulting in Germany receiving the name “The Brothel of Europe” by many experts (Stracke, 2017, min. 2, 7).

This development was also influenced by the EU eastward enlargement in 2004 and 2007. Open borders allowed an increase of migration of individuals from Eastern European (especially Roma, Romanian and Bulgarian) to Germany. The discrimination of these ethnic groups creates finding employment in their countries of origin difficult.  For this reason, they come to Germany seeking employment opportunity but often take jobs in the low-wage sector or in prostitution (Howe, 2015, p. 29f). This population influx directly contributes to the growth of those areas. According to a study from 2007, about 60% of the people in prostitution in Germany were from foreign countries (TAMPEP, 2007, p. 6). Four years later a study of the Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI) conformed this and even noticed an increase to 73% (RKI, 2011, p. 3). Lately the statistics from sources show that now around 90% of the people in prostitution in Germany have migration background (e.g. Polizeipräsidium München 2017: 62f.).

It was from direct communication with women working in prostitution combined with information from other organizations in the field that we realized these women are a marginalized group. Women working in prostitution are exposed and hence more vulnerable to threats common to the nature of prostitution. Susceptibility through exposure includes individuals being unsafe, uneducated, impoverished, unprotected, uninformed, discontent, abused, addicted, exploited, manipulated and/or overlooked.

One or multiple combinations of those factors put women at risk of entering prostitution. Once in prostitution, women are faced with increased threats and require good coping skills to overcome these threats. Unfortunately, some of them do not have sufficient coping abilities which lead to negative and damaging outcomes.

  1. Bundesrat (2017).(Hrsg.). Verordnung über die Führung einer Bundesstatistik nach dem Prostituiertenschutzgesetz. Drucksache 375/17. Köln: Bundesanzeiger.
  2. Schwarzer, A. (2013). Vorwort. In A. Schwarzer (Hrsg.), Prostitution - Ein deutscher Skandal: Wie konnten wir zum Paradies der Frauenhändler werden? (S. 7-13). Köln: KiWi-Taschenbuch.

  3. Stracke, C. (2018). Deutschlands Sexindustrie: Das Milliardengeschäft mit der Prostitution [Dokumentation]. Mainz: Zugriff am 18.01.2018. Verfügbar unter:

  4. Kavemann B. & Steffan E. (2013). Zehn Jahre Prostitutionsgesetz und die Kontroverse um die Auswirkungen [Elektronische Version]. Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 63(9), 9–15.

  5. Domentat, T. (2003). „Laß dich verwöhnen“. Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag.

  6. Stracke, C. (2017). Bordell Deutschland: Milliardengeschäft Prostitution [Dokumentation]. Mainz: Zugriff am 22.01.2018. Verfügbar unter:

  7. Howe, C. (2015). Prostitution im Quartier - Entwicklungskonzepte für eine Gestaltung im Öffentlichen Raum. In M. Albert & J. Wege (Hrsg.), Soziale Arbeit und Prostitution. (S. 27-56). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

  8. TAMPEP - European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers (2007). National Report on HIV and Sex Work: Germany. Amsterdam: o.V.

  9. Robert Koch Institut. (Hrsg.).(2011,13.-14. Dezember). Workshop des Robert Koch-Instituts zum Thema STI-Studien und Präventionsarbeit bei Sexarbeiterinnen [Bericht über den Workshop]. Berlin: Herausgeber.

  10. Polizeipräsidium München (2017): Sicherheitsreport 2016. Zugriff am 24.09.2017 unter