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Prostitution in Germany

Prostitution is legal in Germany and is regulated in the “Prostitute Protection Act” from 2017. KOK welcomes a liberal approach, since condemning prostitution and stigmatising sex workers has a negative impact on women in particular, especially those who willingly engage in the profession.

KOK places special emphasis on highlighting the differences between prostitution and trafficking in women. We respect sex workers who engage in their profession of their own free will. We do not stigmatise them, and our view has always been that voluntary prostitution should be recognised as a personal decision made by the individual in question. Making prostitution illegal would deny sexworkers their right to work and would disregards their self-determination and responsibility. 

We would like to state clearly that not every sex worker, and not every migrated woman who works as a sex worker, is a victim of human trafficking. Trafficking in human beings only takes place in circumstances where a person is exploited, coerced, abused or otherwise forced to perform sexual or non-sexual work. 

It was in 2002 when the prostitution act entered into force, which regulated the legal rights of sex workers towards their costumers and put the provision of sexual services in the context of an employment relationship.

The Prostitute Protection Act

There had been continuing discussions about the so called “Prostitute Protection Act”, when in June 2014 various experts were invited to the Ministry of families, senior citizens, women and youth, in order to discuss “Regulating prostitution”. Based on this exchange of expertise, a draft on a “Law on the regulation of prostitution and the protection of persons working in prostitution” was developed. Aims of this law are to enhance the circumstances and legal position of people working in prostitution, as well as to combat crime, such as human trafficking, violence against and exploitation of sex workers and procuring.

The law does not only include an obligatory registration and health consultations for sex workers, but also an obligatory license, including a reliability test, for brothel operators, as well as further regulations for prostitution.

The law was criticized by many actors, inter alia because of concerns that  it will not enhance the rights of people involved in prostitution and  approaches to combat human trafficking and regulations of prostitution might get mixed up. These concerns were also voiced by KOK in its statement from June 2016.

In 2016, the German parliament resolved the law and it came into force on 1st July 2017.

For further information, as well as current developments please visit: https://www.prostituiertenschutzgesetz.info/en/.


Further reading:

  • Publication: Prostitution in Germany - A Comprehensive Analysis of Complex Challenges.

This analysis of prostitution and female sex workers in Germany presents only the knowledge gained from many years of professional experience and the facts derived from scientific studies, including their complexities and discrepancies. Presented are the results of different surveys helping to provide a more objective and nuanced basis for discussion about prostitution. Women must be able and allowed to decide themselves how to live their lives in compliance with the law. This also has to apply to decisions that others cannot or barely understand, such as when women decide to work in prostitution. Women are entitled to expect their decisions to be accepted and respected. To claim or imply that these decisions are never made freely is to oppose the call by all women for the right to autonomy.

You can download the study here.

  • Report by the Federal Government on the Impact of the Act Regulating the Legal Situation of Prostitutes (Prostitution Act)

Available in English: Report of the Act Regulating the Legal Situation of Prostitutes (Prostitution Act) 

  • Report entitled “Regulating Prostitution and Places of Prostitution – A viable way to improve the situation faced by prostitutes and to effectively improve the fight against human trafficking

Only available in German: Regulierung von Prostitution und Prostitutionsstätten- ein gangbarer Weg zur Verbesserung der Situation der Prostituierten und zur nachhaltigen Bekämpfung des Menschenhandels?

KOK e.V. is being supported
by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

KOK supports the nationwide helpline violence against women. For further information, please visit
https://www.hilfetelefon.de

„Human Trafficking in Germany – An Overview from a Practical Standpoint”

Link to our new book of the same name

„Human Trafficking“
An animated movie about KOK and its work.