Do German sex workers make Germany the brothel of Europe?


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German sex workers are satisfied! Brothels in Germany can open again.

Brothels are allowed to reopen in several federal states of Germany under certain conditions. This includes, for example, that the brothel operators must ensure that contacts can be traced in the event of an infection. But the openings will not work everywhere – that causes frustration. For German SEX workers that has been a long time coming!

Corona hygiene concept in the German brothels

  • Only sex establishments with separate rooms are allowed to open, because only one-to-one contact between prostitutes and clients is allowed.
  • Group or common rooms or meeting several people at the bar, in the sauna or in darkrooms is not permitted. The corresponding areas are closed in the brothels.
  • In addition to the FFP2 mask requirement, the service providers must collect the customer’s contact details.
German sex workers

History of German sex workers – from immorality to self-employment

Until January 1, 2002, prostitution was considered immoral in Germany. It was not expressly officially prohibited, but in daily practice it actually amounted to a ban – not least because of the many restrictions that the industry was confronted with. 

1901: Prostitution is immoral

In 1901 the Reichsgericht developed a formula for the “sense of decency of all those who think cheaply and justly”. Prostitution was thus declared immoral in the Civil Code, which for the first time defined private law for the entire German Reich.

1965: Prostitution in secret

In 1965, a judge classified prostitutes as professional criminals. 

However, brothels, nightclubs or call girl agencies were able to officially operate as businesses. They found ways and means to advertise their services, although officially they were not allowed to do so because advertising for prostitution was forbidden. Insiders understood the message, and the decent German citizens did not hear about the sex trade unless they were expressly interested in it. 

The German sex workers, as the prostitutes call themselves, and their customers met under the guise of secrecy, the tax office got its money, but the prostitutes no health insurance. In the course of time, prostitution had paved winding paths in order to avoid the West German immorality.

2002: German sex worker are recognized as having a profession

On January 1, 2002, the federal policy: “Law Regulating the Legal Relationships of Prostitutes”, or Prostitution Law for short, came into force.

  • In purely theoretical terms, prostitution has since been recognized as legal employment: Prostitutes can now, for example, register as self-employed with the authorities and take out social security. 
  • In addition, a prostitute is not subject to the right of her employer to give instructions, which means that, according to the law, she can decide for herself whether she rejects certain customers or sexual practices.
  • Brothel operators or pimps are also no longer liable to prosecution, simply because they create safe working conditions for prostitutes.

Critics: The law does not create a clear basis for dealing with prostitution. The federal states handle the law differently, authorities interpret it differently, legal certainty is missing on all sides and, last but not least, other laws affecting prostitution (restricted area ordinance, restaurant law, law on administrative offenses ), are excluded from the Prostitution Act.

2017: The new Prostitute Protection Act of July 1, 2017

In order to remedy the abuses that the 2002 did not address, the new law came into force.

The following were amended:

  • All suitors are obliged to use condoms
  • Flat rate sex, as offered in some brothels and sauna clubs, has been banned since then, as has group sex and gangbangs for a fee.
  • Prostitutes have to officially register their trade and brothels, whorehouses and sauna clubs are subject to a special permit requirement.
  • Regular controls take place there, which not only aim to prevent forced prostitution and illegal work, but also to ensure compliance with hygiene and health regulations.
  • All prostitutes must go to a free medical consultation once a year.

In Germany, prostitutes are people who provide sexual services (Section 2 (2) ProstSchG). According to Section 2 ProstStatV, the statistics include all registered prostitutes regardless of gender.

German sex workers


12 Facts about German sex workers and prostitution in Germany

1. German sex worker are officially recognized

For prostitutes in Germany there has been a registration requirement since July 1, 2017, and a permit requirement for corresponding trades. The basis for this is the so-called Prostitute Protection Act (ProstSchG).

2. The German sex industry is huge

There are officially 40,369 prostitutes in Germany. This follows from the information from the Federal Statistical Office, which was published in summer 2020. The statistics include all registered persons, regardless of gender, who provide sexual services in accordance with Section 2 ProstStatV.

3. Not all German sex workers are citizens

Almost a fifth (19.13 percent) of the registered sex workers are German citizens.  Around 74 percent come from other European countries; four percent come from Asia, two percent from America, and less than one percent from Africa.

4. Most German sex workers are Eastern European

The three most common foreign nationalities of prostitutes working in Germany in 2019 were Romanian with 14,300 escort ladies and gentlemen (35 percent of all registered prostitutes), Bulgarian with 4,300 (11 percent) and Hungarian with 3,100 (8 percent) .

5. Most of the German sex workers operate in the north of Germany

Most employees in the sex industry in Germany work in North.

  • Rhine-Westphalia (9472 prostitutes)
  • Bavaria (8149)
  • Baden-Württemberg (4972)
  • Hesse (4593)
  • Lower Saxony (3522)

There are the least in Saxony-Anhalt (43), Brandenburg (111) and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (289).

6. Most German sex workers are young

Of the around 40,400 registered prostitutes, 31,600 (78 percent) were 21 to 44 years old in the reporting year. 6,700 (17 percent) were 45 years or older and 2,100 (five percent) were between 18 and 20 years old.

7. The number of registered businesses keep increasing

As the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) also reports, at the end of 2020 2,290 prostitution businesses had an issued or provisional license in accordance with the law that came into force on July 1, 2017. The statistics include registrations and permits based on the ProstSchG. Unregistered businesses and prostitutes are not included in the statistics.

8. German sex workers and prostitution is big business

In 2001, the legislature assumed that around 400,000 prostitutes in Germany offered their services. The turnover achieved in this way was estimated at around 6.4 billion euros annually at the time. This follows from the report of the Federal Court on the taxation of prostitution, in 2014 published was.

According to estimates by the trade union ver.di, around 14.5 billion euros are generated annually in the German red light trade with prostitution, it said. “Even if no exact figures are available, the Federal Audit Office assumes that several billion euros are still earned annually through the exercise of prostitution,” said the authority.

9. German ex worker enjoy regular visitors

80 percent of all visitors are regulars, they come at least once a month, BZ once reported, referring to a long-time boss of a brothel in Berlin.

10. Most of the people that visit German sex workers have partners

Only one fifth of all guests are single, one in ten have a girlfriend, and 70 percent are married.

11. German sex workers charge varying fees

The prices for sexual services vary widely, according to the Federal Audit Office. While prostitutes are content with relatively low wages on the street, clients in luxury clubs have to pay considerable sums for the use of sexual services in addition to the cost of admission and drinks. Accompanying and escort agencies as well as so-called Domina studios also regularly charge high fee.

12. German sex workers do not earn a lot

A prostitute earns between 10 and 40 euros per sex buyer on the street and in the brothel the extremely high “rental costs” of 120 to 180 euros per day for brothel apartments, caravans or rooms in brothels negate any extra income they might have earned.

German sex workers

Valid registered German sex workers on December 31, 2020 by federal state

Federal states Number of prostitutes
Baden-Wuerttemberg2 809
Bavaria4 105
Hamburg1 013
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania121
Lower Saxony2 214
North Rhine-Westphalia6 227
The whole of Germany24 940
As of  July 1, 2021

Corona impact on prostitution and German sex workers protests (PHOTOS)

German sex workers have been protesting since July against the lockdowns. This has had some impact because in most German states, the lights are back on in the Red Light district.

Sex workers demonstrate in Dortmund for the reopening of brothels.
Sex workers demonstrate in Berlin for the reopening of brothels.
Sex workers demonstrate in Berlin for the reopening of brothels.

How is Corona affecting German sex workers?

Now that at least one-on-one meetings between prostitutes and suitors are allowed again, the mood is different.

1. Hygiene measures deter clients

The regulations start with hand disinfection at the entrance. Each client must also fill out a form and leave their contact details. This is not good for business; after all, visiting a sex worker is something very private that many men want to keep secret. Although the brothel operator guarantees that the Corona forms will be destroyed after four weeks, the trust is not that great.

2. Sex with a mask – depending on the service

The mask alone makes it difficult to initiate business at the window, reports sex worker Diana. According to her, at least some regular customers are not put off by this. The sex worker herself uses several masks a day and also reports on customers who find it difficult to breathe with the mask. Even if she picks up her customer at the front door and who has disinfected their hands, the mask remains on in the room – as far as the service allows: it takes off the protection for oral sex – the mask is put on again during sexual intercourse.

3. More effort, fewer customers

This is precisely what the Infection Protection Measures Ordinance prescribes for the exercise and use of services where physical proximity to the customer is essential. >Due to corona-related restrictions on prostitution – at least for those prostitution sites in which the clients appear individually and do not meet other customers or sex workers. After each guest, the sex worker has to re-make the bed and disinfect everything. That means more effort – with fewer customers.

4. Waiting times at the sexual health department office make restarting difficult

German sex workers require a consultation at the health department in order to get a work card that prostitutes need to legalize their trade. During the lockdown, word cards form many sex workers expired. Getting an appointment has been a tough thing for sex workers.

5. Public traffic below the pre-Corona level

Not all women who used to work on the women’s gate wall have yet returned to the factories. Public traffic in the red light district is also far from being back at pre-Corona level. Many German sex workers have looked around for other jobs during the lockdown. Now the demand from both women and clients is back – but the rules make working in the industry more difficult.

6. Lockdown fear instead of corona fear

A new lockdown would be a financial catastrophe for German sex workers as well as for the operators of brothels, if only because of the running costs such as garbage collection, rent and electricity. They have a hygiene concept that is already very strict.

Are German sex worker allowed to work again in your state?

BundeslandSEX work permitted?
Baden-Württemberg Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Bavaria Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Berlin Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Brandenburg Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Bremen Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Hamburg Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Hessen Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Lower Saxony Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
North Rhine-Westphalia Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Rhineland-Palatinate Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Saarland Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Saxony Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Saxony-Anhalt Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Schleswig-Holstein Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
Thuringia Prostitution is permitted again with restrictions.
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