„Open the brothels!“
Lift the orders to keep prostitution centers closed, now!
No ban on prostitution!
► Doña Carmen e.V., Association for the Social and Political Rights of Prostitutes, demands an end to the ban on the operation of prostitution facilities, which has been in effect for 8 weeks now and is still planned.
► Doña Carmen e.V. demands an end to all prohibitions pertaining to the supply of, or demand for, sexual services.
► Doña Carmen e.V. calls for an immediate end to the criminalization of sex workers and their clients, based on current regulations on fines.
We are told:
A ban on prostitution is inevitable, because its practice collides with the requirement to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres to other persons because of the corona virus. The German federal government and the federal states described the ban in their joint decision on May 6, 2020 as „the most important measure“ to curb COVID 19. Numerous ordinances use it to justify a ban on „body-related services“.
We oppose this and say:
In view of the course of COVID 19 infection as we know it to date, the specification of a minimum distance of 1.5 metres is factually inappropriate and misleading. Furthermore, it in no way justifies the continued restriction of fundamental rights in general, nor the prohibition of prostitution in particular!
In Germany the peak of COVID 19 infections reported by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) was on March 28, 2020 (daily RKI situation reports) and on April 2, 2020 (RKI dashboard). The first nationwide shutdown of numerous facilities, including those for prostitution, took place on the 16th and 17th of March and the „1.5 metre social-distancing rule“ took effect the 22nd and 23rd of March. This created the impression that the closures and the social distancing requirement were the cause of the decline in COVID 19 infections, because the decline in reported COVID 19 infections occurred after these measures took effect. This impression, however, is deceptive!
Pathology fact versus „1.5 meter social-distancing”
It’s a well-known fact that the date you‘re notified of your infection is not the same as the day you contract it. The first phase of the illness that comes before notification is precisely how we evaluate the course of infection. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the nationwide peak of the onset of COVID 19 was already on March 16, 2020. With an incubation period of 5 to 6 days, the peak of infection was, therefore, already on the 10-11 of March, 2020.
Our inevitable conclusion:
Since the decline in COVID 19 infections began well before mandatory social distancing started, it cannot possibly be the reason for fewer new infections. If the 1.5-metre social distancing rule is not the cause in the drop in COVID 19 infections, there is no reason for a government order to continue it. Keeping prostitution sites closed or banning sexual services can no longer be justified. The call to lift the ban on sex work and to re-open prostitution services is justified.
That’s why we say: The people working in prostitution should not have to justify their demands. The state is responsible for seeing to it that the basic constitutional rights of its people are upheld and defended, and that state interventions are legally justified.
Doña Carmen e. V. is not calling for opening the brothels, nor an end to the bans on prostitution out of short-sighted and irresponsible consideration, so that those involved can make money without regard for others’ health. The exact opposite is the case. The decisive factor for Doña Carmen’s arguments is rather this: Even when it comes to COVID 19 precautionary measures, public health protection and the practice of prostitution are not mutually exclusive and are not an automatic contradiction in terms.
A paradigm shift is required! NOW!
It is hard to see a civilized approach to disease in the manner the government is disenfranchising people under the pretext of containing COVID 19. We need, therefore, a paradigm shift. Instead of cultivating fear in the general population, we should work with health authorities to focus on protecting the real risk groups, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
We advocate a paradigm shift towards the infectious disease COVID 19 with an informed and self-responsible approach. The virus is not going away. We have to learn to live with this virus – as with many other infectious diseases. As is well known, the social response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic was managed successfully in Germany because it was based on acceptance, tolerance and education. This although AIDS, unlike SARS, was almost always fatal at the time. We need the same approach to COVID 19, and to take the place of restrictions on basic rights by the state.
Along with the opening of brothels, the health authorities in Germany should concentrate their personnel resources in offering low-threshold, anonymous and free counseling for sex workers and on outreach work in prostitution facilities. This is not the time to focus our efforts on a repressive and useless policy of registering sex workers. Therefore we say:
Open the brothels! NOW! Stop the ban on prostitution! NOW!
It is not up to sex workers to justify their demands. It is the state’s job to justify the fundamental rights violations it is perpetuating.