This is the introduction of a lecture held in Stockholm, Sweden on October 2, 2017 for „the conference on the sex trade“, organized by TALITA.
Dr. Ingeborg Kraus
Last year I went on a tour with Simon through Canada and we were a really good team: I was the “baddy”, talking about the situation in Germany and he was the “goody”, offering solutions. And then he said: “Well, Ingeborg, you should come to Sweden, too.” I asked him: “What can I do in Sweden? People will chase me.” “No, you know”, he said, “we are so used to the law, that people don´t realize how lucky they are.”
15 years ago, Germany, in contrast to Sweden, chose to legalize prostitution without any regulations and it turned out to produce hell on earth. I won´t talk in detail about it, Manuela Schon will do this afternoon. But just to give you a couple of examples: before I came here, two police inspectors had briefed me. Helmut Sporer said that prostitution has risen up to 30% since 2002. We have made a huge mistake implementing this law and have gone the totally wrong way. Prostitution has nothing to do with sexual liberation, it is just money that counts, Sporer says. The profit of this business is enormous: we are talking about 15 billion Euros of transactions every year.
Today we have flat rate brothels where you pay 50 Euros and you will get a beer, a sausage and women without any limitation. Mega-brothels have been created for the increased demand, like the “Pasha” in Cologne with 10 floors and 150 women „working“ there. We are observing a reduction in the rate of payment for women: 30 Euros for sexual intercourse, while the women must pay around 160 Euros for a room and 25 Euro taxes per day; that means that they have to serve 6 men before starting to earn money. The violence has increased, the sex buyers have become more brutal and the sex practices more perverted and dangerous. Before the law of 2002, the buyers had a guilty conscience. That doesn´t exist anymore. They want more and more. The language has changed, women are dehumanized, they are called „Fresh Meat“, „New Goods“,..that is super market language.
Prostitution, the way it predominantly is taking place in Germany, is like women being served on a conveyer belt. Women in German brothels are considered machines that must “produce” more and more. It has become an industry that exploits women´s bodies under the worst capitalist rules, and is not at all a human relationship in any way.
And of course, this attracts the internationally organized crime. Manfred Paulus, a police officer that has worked for over 30 years in this milieu says that the red light district is a highly criminal environment that is in the hands of criminal gangs. The people who made the law in 2002 have been totally naive: they allowed criminals to become recognized business men. And this criminality will of course not stay behind the doors of the brothels. The state has become a pimp of the most vulnerable women.
Germany has become the brothel of Europe, but it is not sacrificing its own women. Today, approximately 90% of the women come from abroad, mainly from poor countries in Europe, like Bulgaria, Romania. Those women – once they are totally broken – are simply sent back. You can imagine what it means for those countries. Imagine, every year, 10,000 Swedish women coming back to Sweden totally traumatized from the German brothels. This would be a national disaster, affecting the population through generations. A situation like after a war that takes a long time to recover. And what are those women sacrificed for? For what are they sent into a situation similar to war? Is it to protect the country against invasions or terrorism? No, those women are being sacrificed so that some German men can have sex!
Currently, the politicians are trying to make little changes in the law. Like trying to correct 10% of the “wrongs” done. But this is not enough. It has to stop! WE need the Swedish Model in Germany!
When we think about legalizing prostitution, we have to ask ourselves one important question first: can the vagina be used as a working tool? Can you use the vagina as a vacuum cleaner pipe or a plastic tubing? Medically seen, it is not possible, because women´s sexual organs are connected through the vegetative nerve system with our entire body, much more than men´s sexual organs are. It´s like a sun that radiates into every corner of our body. That´s why, if a woman is touched by the person she really loves, even if it is just her neck or her hand, she can get excited. Our vagina is also directly connected to our brain. You cannot disconnect the vagina from the body and the brain. Anatomically, it is impossible. Prostitution is only possible in a state of pathological dissociation.
Prostitution is never a choice, it is always sexual exploitation. Women want to be loved, not to be fucked. Fighting for the abolition of prostitution means sending a message of love to all women. In a time of fundamental changes in human history, in the age of digitalization and sex robots, our human values are put to the test. We need to preserve them and for our relationships, we should choose love.
The fact that we turn a blind eye to the violence some women are exposed to sheds a light on many dysfunctions in our society.
The necessity of the abolition of prostitution is still being questioned, even by those who call themselves feminists, although the issue is not at all complicated to understand. Just ask any politician if he would want his wife or daughter to be prostituted. The answer will be very clear: NO! So what does that mean? Are there women who are good…. Or rather… bad enough for prostitution and some are not. Can we allow dividing women into distinct categories?
It is also the reflection of a society that splits itself. It is treating humanly a number of people who “are like them” and is much less human, even cruel, to others. So, what does it say about us if we are no longer affected by the suffering of the other? We are, as said Derida, in war with our compassion.
To accept the evil is to surrender to the violence perpetrated against women. It means accepting to live in an unjust society. It is the reflection of a society losing its soul. Why and how is this possible, especially in a so-called democratic society? Why is Germany not able to see fundamental human rights violations? Why does this society, especially with its historical crime background, stay blind towards violence against women?
Last week, Angela Merkel has been re-elected as our chancellor. At the same time, we witnessed the most boring election campaign ever. Many important topics were not addressed at all and prostitution and trafficking in women was absolutely not a topic, it was simply not on the political agenda, it was not discussed, totally ignored. Why? It´s a serious problem!
I know one politician who voted for the Swedish Model at the European Parliament and against it in her own political party. Well, as a psychologist, I would say, she has a split personality. But she doesn´t see it as a contradiction. She says, I will not have a majority, this idea will fail, so I´m not fighting for it. In fact, this is the definition of opportunism. Many politicians are scared of getting a crack in their career. They don´t want to risk anything, and so they will not fight for necessary changes. But this attitude expresses a democratic crisis. These people are producing a severe global problem: they are feeding the rise of the right-wing extremists that we can observe not only in Europe but all over the word.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not a joke. At the World Congress of Women’s Mental Health, which took place this year in Dublin, the message was clear: the healthy and sustainable development of a society depends on the mental health of women. And women’s mental health is directly linked to respect for their rights in a society: gender equality, the protection from all forms of violence, women’s reproductive rights, and access to health care.
There are some images of the past year that were upsetting: the image of Donald Trump surrounded by dozens of men, signing a decree against abortion. Then the law signed by Putin, authorizing domestic violence. And the rise of radical Islamism oppressing women in many Muslim countries is frightening.
The message of this congress was very clear: women’s mental health should be a priority in the political agendas of every country. We are still a long way off, and we are seeing even a degradation of women’s rights worldwide! A strong appeal was issued at this congress: „Female psychiatrists and psychotherapists from around the world, become political!“
But why do the women not scream in Germany? Why do they not run to the streets and say that they don´t want their sisters to be raped in the brothels? They stay silent. Why? Why do German women keep silent?
You must know that sexual violence is the most severe trauma a woman can experience. It breaks her, it leaves severe damages on her. It is worse than a soldier coming back from war with a PTSD. Women who have been raped are traumatized much deeper.
As a trauma therapist, I know that when you deny the reality, there must be a trauma behind that has not been overcome. You don´t want to look at it because it is something that will call up pain and fear.
When we talk about trauma, we have to understand the dynamics of trauma. The first rule is to keep silent, to shut up about what has been done to someone. When we talk about trauma, we also have to think about individual trauma and collective trauma and how both of them affect our community. So I am asking myself which trauma German women have not overcome so that today they stay in a collective state of denial?
– Has it something to do with the mass rapes of the German women by the liberating soldiers after the second world war?
– Has it something to do with the sexual abuse that is still happening on a large scale in Germany?
– The mental violence or sexual harassment that women are permanently facing?
This mental process of denying trauma and repressing pain has been apparently well-practiced by the Germans and it seems to have been passed from one generation to the next.
If you don’t overcome a trauma, it will reoccur, as Janet already said 100 years ago. So, I ask myself if this silence when it comes to prostitution has something to do with our history? Women were raped, and they had to keep silent. Now, their men rape, and they keep silent again.
To heal a trauma one must put words to what is hidden and uncover lies. If we want to reverse trauma, we have to tell the truth. This is also an important message to you: Don’t keep silent, raise your voice, because if we keep silent, we become part of the perpetrator’s system and we dishonor the victims. So raise your voice for those women who cannot raise theirs because our society keeps locking them into a lie.
At this point I want to express my highest appreciation to Josephine and Anna, who set up Talita, because they were convinced that something wasn´t right in the society and that something had to be done.
Dr. Ingeborg Kraus
Editing by Firdes Ceylan