Poverty prostitution has increased over the past years. In most cases it is about young women from Bulgaria and Romania who came to Germany in search for a better life and a secure livelihood. However, they have no chance in the regular labor market because of their low education, absence of professional training and lack of German skills. Poverty migration thus, becomes poverty prostitution.
Many of these women from Bulgaria and Romania have already experienced violence at a young age. The lack of opportunity in their native countries makes them easy targets for human traffickers, pimps, profiting “friends” and relatives, who push or even force them into prostitution.
Using our expertise in street work, FIM is managing the networking and qualification of street work regarding poverty prostitution in Hessen since October 2015.
Germany is very attractive for that purpose. Aside from having a relatively high economy level within the European Union, the law on prostitution (effective since January 2002) seems to make earning money in this profession legal and simple.
Poverty prostitution changed the sex industry in Germany.
Following phenomena can be observed:
- Women from the new EU-countries are young and inexperienced. They are often not able to organize their lives on their own
- Most of them have a low school education and/or no professional training or experience. Some women are illiterate.
- Many women can only speak a little German or none at all. Therefore, they are not able to negotiate or communicate themselves regarding their service.
- The women often belong to the ethnic minorities of Roma in Romania and Turkish groups in Bulgaria.
- They lack professionalism in their work. Low rates correspond to lack of self-protection and self-care.
- Sexual intercourse is often without protection.
- There is no health care. The women do not usually have any medical insurance and do not have access to public medical facilities.
- These women are working legally with regard to right of residence (freedom of movement), at the same time they are invisible. The vicious circle in this regard is that women in poverty prostitution have neither a residency (registered) nor a tax number nor an identification number. Because they are only informal and not officially registered as workers in Germany, it is difficult for them to get an alternative regular work or to claim any social support.
- The women are dependent on networks of human traffickers, pimps, relatives and so called “friends”. Control, exploitation and violence by these people are on daily fare.
- There is a high turnover in brothels, clubs, flats and so on. The pimps take the women from one country to another, from one city to another to increase their dependency.
In summary, it can be stated that many of the women knew at the time of their arrival in Germany that they would work as prostitutes. Despite the provisions of the law (law on prostitution, freedom of movement within the EU), they are often not able to work independent, self-determined and on their own. Instead, they are controlled and financially exploited by networks of human traffickers and pimps. The transition to the criminal offence of human trafficking is fluid.