Corona Crisis: German Aids Association calls for solidarity for sex workers

Posted on : by : Derrick Wallace

The Deutsche Aidshilfe has taken today’s international whores’ day as an opportunity to make an appeal to politicians. They demand equal treatment and support for sex workers who have fallen on hard times in the Corona crisis. Many associations and specialist advice centres have already signed the appeal.

Deutsche Aidshilfe demands equal treatment and support for sex workers
One particular area is particularly hard hit by the corona crisis: Sex work. Because of the current ban on the practice of the profession, numerous prostitutes have fallen into existential hardship. In addition to the lack of income, there is often a lack of health protection and homelessness. For this reason, on the occasion of the International Whores’ Day on June 2, the German AIDS Aid Association has now launched an appeal to political leaders at federal, state and local level. The initiative has been well received, among others by the Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services (BesD), the Professional Association of Sexual Services (BSD) and the Alliance of Specialist Counselling Centres for Sex Workers (bufas).

What exactly are they demanding? In general, the appeal entitled “Sex workers in crisis: ensuring equal treatment and support!” is about ensuring that prostitutes in crisis situations are not treated like second-class citizens and have the right to financial support from the state, just like other professional groups. For this reason, the aim is to ensure that an emergency aid fund is set up as quickly as possible to provide security for sex workers, which can be called upon in an unbureaucratic way. There are also calls for homeless prostitutes to be provided with secure accommodation and for those without health insurance to be given access to medical care.

A further point is that sex work should no longer be treated differently from other services close to the body, as has been the case with the previous relaxation of the corona measures. The ban on employment is to be lifted immediately. Björn Beck, member of the board of directors of the German Aidshilfe, said: “The epidemic hits hardest those who were already disadvantaged. People who were in precarious and threatening situations before Corona are now experiencing them more acutely. Not least the health of those affected is threatened. In times of need, solidarity is called for – regardless of moral judgments.”

No access to help – offers of advice centres strongly restricted
Although there have already been some state corona emergency aid programmes, access for prostitutes has been made difficult or even completely blocked, mostly for tax, registration or residence reasons. There can therefore be no question of support for sex workers in financial need. Especially since some of them are legally entitled to assistance from the state, but are not taken seriously by the authorities because of their profession, or are even discriminated against.

As sex workers who do not receive financial support – and who may also not have health insurance or safe accommodation – still have to earn money, quite a few continue to provide sexual services despite being banned from their profession. They have no other option for survival. If they are caught, however, a fine is due. In other words: due to a lack of help from the state, the financially precarious situation of sex workers could only worsen.

In addition, because of the Corona measures, many specialist counselling centres can only provide prostitutes with limited assistance. This is despite the fact that, in addition to counselling, they also carry out prevention in many respects, for example in cases of violence. The Deutsche Aidshilfe therefore demands that specialist counselling centres are immediately classified as systemically relevant so that they can support sex workers in difficult life situations.

Criticism of the ban on sex buying
To make matters worse, some politicians are using the Corona crisis to impose a general ban on sex buying. This proposal has already been discussed several times in the past – also on a federal political level. Prostitutes’ associations such as the BesD have criticised it considerably.

Björn Beck has a clear opinion on the matter: “The focus must now be on the welfare of those affected. Those who abuse the Corona epidemic to create a mood against sex work are harming those who are supposed to be protected. People in sex work do not need a ban on employment, but safe working conditions and deserve respect”. He emphasizes: “Labeling prostitutes as ‘super spreaders’ is not only technically incorrect, but also stigmatizing and inhuman.”