Relaxed attitude to prostitution has resulted in Germany attracting sex tourists from France, Italy and beyond to visit its brothels.
Germany has become a sex tourism hotspot thanks to the legalisation of prostitution, the country’s leading feminist campaigner has warned.
Alice Schwarzer, whose book “Prostitution – a German scandal” was published last week, says sex tourists from France, Italy and Scandinavia travel to Germany to visit its brothels.
They are attracted by a relaxed approach to prostitution and legal brothels such as Cologne’s Pascha, the largest brothel in Europe, she explained.
“Germany today is a ‘sex paradise’ for foreigners – thanks to the 2002 reform which permitted conditions that our neighbouring countries are amazed at: large brothels with low fees and flat rates, and ‘wellness’ brothels,” Ms Schwarzer said.
“Foreigners travel from as far as Scandinavia and France by the busload.”
Her comments come amid a debate about Germany’s prostitution laws, which were relaxed in 2002 to make employing sex workers legal.
The aim of that change was to improve sex workers’ rights and give them better access to pensions and health care. The use of child prostitutes and forcing women to sell sex remains illegal.
Feminist magazine “Emma”, published by Ms Schwarzer, this month launched a campaign to get prostitution banned in Germany once again.
Nearly 100 German celebrities, academics and intellectuals quickly signed the magazine’s anti-prostitution petition.
But a counter camp is lobbying for the status quo to be maintained and for sex workers to be given more rights.
Germany’s association of sex workers’ own petition went live just days ahead of Emma magazine’s. It calls for the current laws to remain intact and prostitutes’ rights to be improved.
Specifically, it demands the inclusion of sex workers in any political debate about prostitution as well as assurances that Germany will not follow Sweden’s example by outlawing the use prostitutes.
“Prostitution is not slavery. Prostitution is a professional activity where sexual services are offered for money,” the petition states.
Estimates put the total number of sex workers in Germany at anywhere between 400,000 and one million.
According to Ms Schwarzer’s research, only five per cent are German, with the rest coming from Eastern Europe and Africa.