What is the brutal truth about prostitution

The brutal business of love that can be bought

Galina (Name changed by the editors) grew up in Belarus in an educationally conscious family with a great love for art. However, after completing her training as a nurse, she has to admit that she cannot support a family from either the culture or her salary.

"This very difficult financial situation at home. I had a baby and I earned so little that you couldn't live on this money. My mother, she only received unemployment benefits. And then I decided to work at the Looking abroad. And that's how I came to Poland. "

Galina wants to work as a geriatric nurse in Poland. Instead, however, she ends up in the clutches of an organized gang of human traffickers. The compatriot, who had promised to make professional contacts for her in Warsaw, had already sold her in Belarus to the German boss of a call girl ring operating throughout Europe. She is chauffeured to him in Germany with false papers bought.

“The boss just put some porn on the table and talked like a kid in kindergarten. 'I know you don't want to do this, but you do it. You don't want to stay here, but you stay here. It doesn't matter whether you want it or not. ' And after this conversation I wasn't alone for a second. "

"Woe, you don't bring any money home, then I'll kill you."

Luisa grows up in a small town somewhere in Africa. The mother has long been dead. When her father finally dies too, at the age of 13 she is completely on her own. To survive, she drags water from the well to the market every day and sells it. There is no time for school. One day she meets a man there who promises her a future in Europe.

"He told me he could take me to Europe. I would go to school there, and after school, when I grew up, I could go to work and then we could get married. He promised me that - and that's why I had I have the courage to follow him here. "

Luisa doesn't know that the man she confided in is a member of a human trafficking ring. On the second day after her arrival in Germany, the 13-year-old should buy something for him. Luisa is still a virgin. When she refuses to obey, the man rapes her.

"Then he says: 'So now you can go to work tomorrow. And alas, you don't bring any money home, then I'll kill you. Nobody will ask for you.'"

Galina and Luisa - two women who were victims of human traffickers. In order to protect you, we have changed the information about you. Protection is very important for these women, says Barbara Petersen from Berlin. The lawyer represents affected women. In her experience, the dealer rings have increasingly used so-called "loverboys" as recruiters in Romania and Bulgaria in recent years. These men trick inexperienced young girls in villages and small towns into love and promise them a marriage in Germany. A client of Barbara Petersen was already advertised on the website of a German escort service when she arrived here. The headline of the ad: "Bookable 24 hours a day, seven days a week".

"It was booked a lot at the beginning. I think it's always like that when you are offered with 'fresh there' from what-know-where and then also the young age in the advertisements is accepted. Well, that seems to be pulling with the suitors. "

After a year, the young woman - she was 17 years old at the time - is completely exhausted. When her pimp travels abroad, she still finds the strength to go to the police and testify.

"She said she felt incredibly dirty doing this job, and at some point she was physically exhausted. And there are unspeakable chat logs from which you can see how clients rate prostitutes, so to speak. And there you can also see from these ratings that she was obviously on the verge of her physical capabilities. I don't want to go into any further details now. "

The victims are not always so deceived during recruitment as Galina, Luisa and Barbara Petersen's client. According to the Berlin public prosecutor's office, however, the girls and women rarely travel to Germany for prostitution of their own accord. And they certainly have no idea about the working conditions that await them here, says Leonie von Braun, who is the person responsible for trafficking in human beings at the Berlin investigative authorities.

"Of course, many expect that it can also result in prostitution. But nobody knows what that really means. Because especially with the women from Romania and Bulgaria, who are recruited from the village situation, they have never heard of before Had to do prostitution. So how should a 16-year-old Romanian imagine what that means? "

Even if the women are clear about their work as prostitutes, they do not know that they have to deliver a large part of their earnings, are usually not allowed to refuse a suitor and have to serve as many customers as possible. According to Leonie von Braun, the pimps ruthlessly enforce their profit interests.

"So the pimps have an easy game because they are usually men. They can prevail with physical violence, with threats against the women themselves, but also with the simple phrase 'I know where your family lives', which is often the case Drugs in the game and alcohol to keep the women docile. "

The more unscrupulous the perpetrators, the more frightened the women are. Galina has to attend a real violence staging.

"The boss just wanted to show me an example of what he does when someone - as he said - is 'unruly'. And I saw how he hit a woman. He kept doing it for as long as maybe it was Was fun for him and, he said, 'Who else do you have at home?' She said: 'Just my mother'. 'Well you have to think about it. Do you want to come home and be alone at all, or do you want to see your mother again?' "

Pressure from afar: relatives are murdered

The threat to the family at home is not just empty talk. Luisa, who ran away from her tormentor after he beat her half-blind, learns that her relatives were murdered in Africa. She suspects her pimp. But she wants to know exactly and calls him.

"He says to me, 'That was just a very small thing you've been through. You will experience more than that. I'm the one who sent people to your family to do that.' I told him that I would go to the police because he did this to my relatives. He says I shouldn't forget that I took the voodoo oath. And then I remembered it. "

Luisa fears that the human traffickers could also murder her little cousin, her last living relative in Africa. Luisa, then 14, sees the only way to save this child is to reveal herself to the police. Today she lives in a witness protection program somewhere in southern Germany. And she is doing very badly.

"I swore at voodoo that nothing in my life would be the same as it was when I went to the police, and I'm experiencing it now. I've been bleeding all the time since I remembered it. Can you imagine, what it means to a young girl to be doomed to bleed for three years and it just doesn't stop? "

Several human traffickers from Africa who have bound their victims to themselves with voodoo oaths are currently on trial in Berlin. Some women have vowed to pay up to 60,000 euros to their dealers. "They had no idea of ​​the value of the currency, but they feel bound by the oath," explains another victim lawyer, Aenne Ollmann from Berlin. The psychological consequences of the voodoo cult are often underestimated by Europeans, she says. In her opinion, Voodoo is an extremely effective instrument for influencing the soul.

"In the context of the oath it is clearly stated that no one is allowed to talk about it further. And there are indications that pressure is also put on with the oath. Basically, the women fear that they will be confused, that they will become confused, that they will get sick that they might even die. That is not said directly in the context of this voodoo ritual, but that is what women fear. "

Human trafficking crimes cannot be solved without the testimony of the women concerned. But because of the multiple threats, few find the courage to go to the police on their own. Those who have to answer questions during police checks rarely dare to reveal themselves, says lawyer Barbara Petersen.

"Because they often come from countries where you don't really trust the investigative authorities from the start. Countries where both the judiciary and the police are considered particularly corrupt. And for this reason it is difficult for them from the start to develop a trust and, so to speak, to open up fully - to both the police and the judiciary. "

Barbara Erit looks after women who have been victims of human traffickers in the Berlin association "InVia" of Catholic social work. The social pedagogue has made the experience that the loss of trust of those affected is often total. "This is especially true for the underage victims," ​​says Barbara Erit.

"Everything broke down there, we have girls here, under 14-year-olds, who were brought to Europe with promises of schooling, and nothing happened. And the first or second night they were raped by several men. Please, why should you who trust me when they have completely lost trust? "

Even if the police and counseling centers work well together in many German cities and the investigative authorities in many places have developed an awareness that the victims' witnesses need careful questioning, the whole truth must be revealed so that the perpetrators can be convicted. The witnesses have to be brave. Because they not only have to disclose the most intimate details for hours and days during the investigation at the State Criminal Police Office. But also when it comes to trial against the traffickers. A main hearing in the presence of the perpetrators is always difficult for the witnesses, as prosecutor Leonie von Braun knows from many criminal proceedings.

"They are completely screened - not only by the court, but above all by the defense lawyers. And an attempt is made to make them the perpetrator themselves, to reveal complicity that does not exist in reality. But there is no trial free of it. "

The public prosecutor would like the federal government to swiftly implement a directive passed by the European Parliament, in which the authorities are empowered to do more to protect victims. This is what human rights organizations, churches and social associations are calling for on the European Day against Human Trafficking, which will take place tomorrow. And also social pedagogue Barbara Erit from the "InVia" advice center. She criticizes the fact that, according to the existing regulations, women are only allowed to stay in Germany if they have the courage to testify in a process. Or that the women willing to give evidence only enjoy protection for the duration of criminal proceedings. Instead, Barbara Erit demands a perspective for those affected who live here.

"If I am serious that they, yes, that they are really stabilized again, then they have to have access to everything like the normal population, yes. And integration is not just about sitting somewhere in a protected space, but actually being able to rent an apartment at some point, start learning to walk again, and that they also live culture, that's integration, that's actually participation, and only then can I say, yes, they have stabilized. "

Barbara Erit refers to the Italian model: In Italy, victims of human trafficking get a temporary right of residence even if they do not testify and are allowed to stay if they integrate. They are also allowed to bring their children to live with them. There is also support and qualification offers. Public prosecutor Leonie von Braun also calls on the future federal government to change the current prostitution law. According to the public prosecutor, this law, passed in 2001 under red-green, has improved the social situation of sex workers less than the profit prospects of brothel operators.

"I think that the Prostitution Act has only made one thing possible so far, and that is that red-light businesses have completely disappeared from the public eye and can operate unhindered from any state control. It simply cannot be that there is no control whatsoever when it comes to the provision of sexual services takes place via the management of the company. "

The SPD member of the Bundestag Eva Högl, rapporteur of her parliamentary group on the subject of human trafficking, considers a criticism of the prostitution law in this absolute form to be wrong. In any case, this law is not responsible for the increase in forced prostitution and human trafficking. But it has weaknesses, and that is why it needs to be improved. Preferably in the coalition negotiations.

"The model of the independent, self-dependent prostitute, which is expressed in the Prostitution Act, is our ideal, therefore the model. But we know that unfortunately many prostitutes cannot work like that, but have pimps, poor working conditions, and do not decide for themselves how long and where and how they work. And that's why we have to put in place protective mechanisms to protect women from exploitation and forced prostitution. "

Better controls in brothels

The demand of the Union parties for better control of the brothel operators is understandable. But according to the Social Democrat, the legislature can fight human trafficking and forced prostitution more efficiently with the criminal law than with the trade regulations. And Eva Högl sees the protection of the victims more effectively guaranteed if they are granted more generous right of residence.

"I think it is essential that the right of residence is extended beyond this criminal process. We looked at that from the Legal Affairs Committee, we were in the USA, we looked at the T-Visa system, where not only the victims of human trafficking get a right of residence but even the relatives from home. I also asked in the USA, is that being exploited. And then everyone told me, no, the T-Visa for victims of human trafficking is not being used. Nobody declares themselves a victim of human trafficking who is not. "

Even Monika Lazar from the Alliance Greens does not believe that the Prostitution Act encourages human trafficking. She points out that the law came into force around the same time as the EU's eastward expansion. With the result that afterwards more poor women come to Germany who want to earn money here.

"And because the free movement of workers will not fully take effect until next year, they will prostitute themselves. And then the question is whether it is voluntary or not. When does the compulsion begin. And when they say I still earn more money here, then it is just difficult to determine what is now compulsion and what is voluntary. "

According to the Green Members of the Bundestag, the problem with the Prostitution Act lies in the fact that it only regulates the activities of women who voluntarily prostitute themselves. With this law, prostitutes should have better access to health and social systems and should be freed from the stigma of immorality. The law was not intended for the victims of human trafficking and forced prostitution. For these women, the social counseling centers have to be financed better and more reliably, and the right of residence has to be relaxed. The Christian Democrats also admit that the Prostitution Act was not aimed at promoting human trafficking and forced prostitution. But it still favored human trafficking and forced prostitution. The CDU member of the Bundestag Elisabeth Winkelmeyer-Becker is convinced of this. Because this law has opened up a lucrative business area for brothel operators and escort service companies. When the prostitution law is back on the agenda in the upcoming legislative period, the Christian Democrat is primarily concerned with one thing:

"Above it must be that the business model for smugglers and human traffickers is disrupted. For me, this includes things in the regulation of brothels. That must be subject to approval. There must be other access rights. Above all, women have a protected opportunity to themselves to be recognized and to get out. "

The members of the Bundestag from the CDU, SPD and Greens, who deal with the issue of human trafficking, agree that more must be done for the victims of human trafficking.However, given the majority in the German Bundestag, this will only succeed if the demands of conservative MPs for more control over prostitution businesses are granted.