Against Hate, Nordic Model Now!

Speech by Dr. Ingeborg Kraus at the international abolitionist conference in Buenos Aires, May 17, 2018.

Proofreading by Anya Zeldovich Noble.

Thank you for inviting me here to Buenos Aires[1]. Thank you to all the organizations that have made this possible.

I was asked to talk about something general. So I was asking myself, how many men are taking part in this conference today? One or two? Usually there are just a few who come, and it´s a pity, because it´s a topic that regards them.

There is a new study that came out a couple of weeks ago, conducted by Melissa Farley. A screening for traumatic brain injuries[2] has been made among women in an exit program. The violence is enormous! She found out that 95% had sustained head injuries. They have been hit in their head with hands or fists, or objects, like bottles, bats, sticks, hammers, guns, telephones, canes, belts, rocks, steel tubes, or ash trays. Or their heads had been slammed into objects, like floors, against dashboards, steering wheels, windows of cars, furniture or sinks, against vehicles, buildings, doors or stairs.

Well, it is not the women themselves who hit their heads with an ash tray or their own fists, no, it is men who are doing this. This topic regards men!

Well let´s do a little imagination exercise. Let´s put men, as a gender on a psychoanalytical couch. What would we find out? Well, we would have a case of a severe narcissistic disturbance with a strong tendency to idealize themselves and diminish women. Narcissistic also in denying their own guilt and not taking responsibility for the crimes men commit against women and blaming others for their misery. Well, the world is full of this kind of men, but what we witness today in many parts of the world is that those men even become political leaders in democratic societies: Trump, Erdogan, Putin, Orban,.. They even had a strong population who voted for them, who identify themselves with totalitarian figures, the same way a child has a traumatical identification with his abuser. When Berlusconi won elections for the third time, even though everybody knew he was corrupt and had “bungabunga” parties with minor prostituted women, men were asked in the streets, why they voted for him. The answer was very simple: they wanted to be like him: to have women, money and power. The election of Donald Trump is still a shock for the entire civilized world. How does it happen that a man becomes the most powerful man in the world not despite, but because of his misogyny?

What is the way out? We need the Nordic Model, not only to protect the women in prostitution, but also to protect all of us, and also to protect our democracy and peace in the world. Establishing a law that punishes the sexbuyers is a tool to civilize men, to educate them to empathy, because the damage some of them are doing is enormous.

Never, in the entire history of humanity, have we had as many sex-slaves as today[3]. All over the world, whether in Columbia, South Africa, Australia or Korea, it is being discussed which model is the most efficient against trafficking in women. 3 models are being discussed: the prohibition of prostitution, the regulation or the Abolition of prostitution, which is known as the Nordic Model. In 1999, Sweden was the first country in the world to implement the Nordic Model, which punishes the sexbuyers, educates the society that women can´t be used as sexual commodities, and decriminalizes persons in prostitution and offers them exit programs. The legalization and regulation model has become synonymous with the “German Model”. It was established in Germany in 2002.

So we have 2 total opposite models that have been installed nearly at the same time in Europe. 16 years have passed and we can see the results.

There is a recent German TV-Documentary[4] that shows very precisely the results of the German law. And even before it was broadcast on TV, it was massively attacked by the pro-prostitution lobby, so that even the main German TV-Chanel ZDF got pressurized. And they even managed to block the representation rights. So the message of the sex-industry is very clear: the truth must not get out! And after this documentary was shown on TV, the newspapers started to attack me personally: directly or indirectly by bringing up nearly every week a story of a happy sexworker.

The fight for the abolition of prostitution is very tough. We won´t have many allies, not the politicians, not the media, and of course not the sex industry! It will be only the women´s movement that will bring about change. That´s why this congress is so important! You will make the change!

I won´t talk in detail about the German Model, I will do it tomorrow in the workshop about trafficking. But just to summarize very shortly what happened since then in Germany:

  • the demand and, consequently, prostitution have risen by up to 30% since 2002.
  • The profit of this business is enormous: we are talking about 15 billion Euros of transactions every year[5].
  • The violence has increased, the sex buyers have become more brutal and the sex practices more perverted and dangerous. Before, the buyers had a guilty conscience. That doesn´t exist anymore[6]. 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 international organized crime. The red light district is a highly criminal environment that is in the hands of criminal gangs[7]. The people who made the law in 2002 were 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[8], but it is not sacrificing its own women. Today, approximately 90% of the women come from abroad[9], mainly from poor countries in Europe, like Bulgaria, Romania. Those women – once they are totally broken – are simply sent back.

“30% of these women are young, under 21-years old. Often they are sacrificed by their own families to support them financially. The majority don’t speak German, and some among them are illiterate. And frequently, they haven’t had sexual relations before. These young women come to Germany and are subjected to the perverse desires of these buyers. They aren’t capable of saying “no”, of defending themselves. They are completely overwhelmed by the situation and completely traumatized by it. Many of them ask for psychotropic drugs immediately after their first experience. They say, ‘otherwise, you couldn’t survive it.’ Some women are only there a few days and say, ‘I’m dead here, I can’t laugh anymore.’ Others endure it for years and say, ‘I have children at home, I have to support them.’ These women are very traumatized, they develop depression, nightmares and physical problems; they somatize, they have stomach pains, they get sick and suffer. They become hopeless, they don’t want to do this horrible work.”[10] Free-Choice prostitution is even worse than forced prostitution: because the trafficker is not a stranger but somebody they love or someone from their own family. Exiting prostitution causes conflicts deep inside.

There is a recent medical report from a gynaecologist[11] who is working with prostituted women. The health condition of those women is catastrophic. With 30 years they are very often pre-aged. All women have persistent abdominal pains, Gastritis and frequent infections, also due to the unhealthy living conditions. And of course, all kinds of sexually transmittable diseases. The psychological traumatisation can just only be coped with through alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs. He reports about a growing demand for pregnant women in prostitution. Those women have to serve 15 to 40 men a day continuously until they give birth. Very often, they abandon their child and go to work as soon as possible. Sometimes 3 days after birthing of the child. Those practices are totally irresponsible for the health of the mother and her child. It can leave irreversible damages to the unborn child. And every mother knows that it takes time after giving birth to a child before sexual intercourse is possible again without pain.

I was asked by the Women´s Health Mental Organization to speak in 2017 at the world conference in Dublin[12] about the mental health situation of prostituted women in Germany. What can I say? What is the mental health situation of a woman that is reduced to a piece of meat? They are totally destroyed. A woman that is working in an exit program for prostituted women told me that there are very few women exiting prostitution. They will stay until they break down physically. It is just a matter of time. I asked myself, why it is like this? Because their will has been broken. They are not existing anymore as a person that has an identity and a future they can imagine for themselves. We are talking here about complex traumatisation.

Legalizing prostitution is also a severe problem for Europe and the social solidarity among all European citizens. Germany doesn´t seem to have a problem in using the most vulnerable women from the disadvantaged EU-countries, to exploit them sexually and reject them, when they are totally traumatized. People from those countries, when they have the opportunity, they ask us, why we are doing this to their girls?

I was very surprised, that some female politicians from the left wing, who blocked constantly important changes in the prostitutions law are now participating in the „metoo“ campaign. They declare, that they were also victims of sexual harassment. It is good that they talk about it, but it would be even better if they could see the direct connection between prostitution and pornography, that objectifies women and gives men the right to use them, and the sexual harassment women experience every day of their lives and everywhere? On one hand they were protecting the objectification of the women in prostitution and are now shocked, that men perceive them and treat them as sexual objects in business. Prostitution has to be included in the “metoo” campaign, everything else legitimizes sexism and the psychological and physical destruction of women.

Legalising prostitution and even making it a profession like any other has one logical result: it degrades the vagina into a tool. It makes it an object, an instrument that can be penetrated by 20, 30 men a day. Is this possible? Can a vagina be reduced to a vacuum cleaner pipe? Anatomically and psychologically this is not possible. The vagina, and with this I mean the female sexual organs, cannot be separated from the female body. On the contrary, it is a highly sensitive organ that is connected to our brain and our whole body. It is the most intimate part of a woman.

The “voluntary” decision to go into prostitution requires certain conditions. Prostituted women who come to my office all had a history of insufficient protection in their childhood which lead to insufficient self-protection. These women learned early on to “turn themselves off”. Here, too, we find countless studies[13] that show this connection between experiences of violence in childhood and prostitution.

A Minister for Women also has the obligation to protect the citizens. If the protection in the family fails the state must not become an accomplice of these traumas. A state that tolerates the degradation of women to sexual objects, in which sexual exploitation is legalized and therefore legitimized, such a state contains perpetrator structures and encourages hatred of women.

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?

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. 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?

To accept prostitution is to surrender to 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?

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.

I treat women who have been in prostitution. Recently, I helped one to exit, but then, she developed severe anorexia. She hardly ate anything and her state was critical. Why now? Now she is free, she could enjoy her life! She uses anorexia as a form of protection: now SHE is controlling her body, she is deciding what is getting into her body, now she says: “I will let nothing get into my body anymore!”

And if my patient dies, who will be guilty? People will say that she died because she was mentally sick or they will perhaps blame me and ask why I wasn´t able to fix her? But nobody will look at the reasons that caused her mental disturbance. Nobody will question the sex buyers.

A study done by Melissa Farley showed that buyers of sex have similar patterns to men with antisocial personalities[14]: lack of empathy, misogyny and a desire to dominate women, practicing sex without making a connection, a lack of a guilty conscience. Prostitution develops antisocial patterns among men. Needless to say, these behaviours don’t stay confined behind brothel walls but also influence male-female relationships in everyday life. On the other hand, studies have shown, that sexual violence against women, has declined in Sweden since the adoption of the law in 1999 that punishes the sexbuyers.

The Swedish researcher Mansson[15] says, that prostitution should not be seen as a separate universe which is populated by monsters. No, it says something about our society, it is like a loop, that makes our gender roles visible, and highlights the persistent sexism therein. Sexbuyers are not exceptional men, but very ordinary men from all classes and statuses[16]. It can be the nice neighbour next door or one’s own husband. It looks as if men are able to split those two opposite personalities without major problems: privately being the nice husband, and in the brothel, being the misogynist, dominant man without empathy.

Prostitution falls back on women who are not in prostitution. Approximately 50% of the punters are in relationships[17], so women are being cheated on by their partners and husbands: Do the calculation yourself: every day 1.2 Million men buy sex[18]. They are not the same every day. We must realize, that Germany is a country were millions of women are being cheated on[19]. Those women call themselves “Schattenfrauen”[20], which means women of the shadow. They stay in the shadow of the system of prostitution, their voice and their Trauma is being ignored. They are left alone with the humiliation and indignity, which is also typical for trauma victims. Some of them have contacted me and they say that it is much worse if a husband goes to a prostituted woman than if he falls in love with another woman. Prostitution destroys the ability to love and therefore the foundation of our value system. Trust, mutual respect and real intimacy become impossible.

The system of prostitution foments hate! The punters disrespect and hate the women they abuse. The brothel owners, pimps and traffickers exploit the women sexually, they dehumanize them, they hate them. The prostituted women hate the men who abuse them, they hate the state and the society who leave them alone in their pain and declare sexual violence as normal, the women hate themselves for being abused. The cheated women hate their husbands for having cheated them, they hate the prostituted women for having had Sex with them. The children of the punters hate their fathers for doing it. It pollutes human relationships. A state that legalizes the buying of sex, foments hate among men and women! It destroys and traumatized relationships and families for generations.

I have a friend who works as a street worker in a working town in Germany, where, she said, the B-selected women are dumped, those who are not good enough for the reach towns: She meets neglected women who lost any contact to themselves. They react in a scared or apathetic way. It is obvious that they need everything but sex. But next to them you see the sex buyers who do not give a damn about it. They laugh and they are amused.

How can that be? I ask myself the same question Caroline Emcke[21] had asked in her book “Against the Hate”. Yes, how is it possible to ignore, to not see the misery but only one´s own needs? How does this work?

It works because men think that they have a right to have sex and that they have a right to use women for that end. The woman is locked up in a socially constructed picture, namely the picture of an “insatiable sex beast”. Other needs that this woman might have are denied. She is dehumanized, she is only an „it“, an object. This allows the sex buyer every form of unscrupulousness, their empathy is blocked and replaced by indifference.

The German Modell is creating Hell on Earth! The lives and the rights of those women are sacrificed, but for what? Are they defending our democracy? Is it to protect our land from invasions or terrorism? No, those women are sacrificed so that some men can have sex whenever they want, the way they want and with whom they want. And this is the problem. We have to focus on the sex buyer.

The sex buyer is a social construction, it is not a fate. The numbers all over the world prove it[22]: In England, you have 7% of men who are sex buyers, in Spain 39%, 37% in Japan, 73% in Thailand… It is a result of the unequal gender education. Prostitution does not resolve men´s problem, it is increasing their fear of entering into an equal relationship to women. The Sex-Robot-Brothels that do already exist in Germany and Spain will separate men even more from real women and women´s sexual desire. It blocks them up in a parallel world disconnected from women´s reality.

There is a movement of women in Germany who want to become lesbians. They say that they don´t believe in men anymore. Especially, many young women say that they don´t want to have a relationship with men anymore who have interiorised pornography as a way to have sex. They say, that men are unable to caress anymore, take attention to their needs, love them. It´s just all about sexual intercourse, and they are sick of it.

When we talk about prostitution, we have to think about what kind of a society we want, not only about harm reduction. We need a new generation of men that does not resort to sexual exploitation and domination of women to define itself. It is false to think that male sexuality is not controllable. Men have to learn a new way to deal with frustration.

The legalization and normalization of prostitution means cementing the inequality between men and women, it equals a capitulation to violence against women. Women are given the signal that they have to be sexually available for men. It also sends a wrong signal to men: that they need sex, and need a regular release of their urges to stay stable and not become molesters. According to this logic, men can’t control themselves: this is the hidden message that the system of prostitution transmits. If this was really the case we would have to change our constitution, the Basic Law, immediately. Because then men and women would not be equal. The ability to regulate emotion and tolerance for frustration are important achievements of civilisation.

Regulating prostitution is not a solution. It determines with a certificate which form of sexual abuse and sexual violence is recognized as normal by a society and protects it by the law[23].

Fighting for the abolition of prostitution means that we still believe in a healthy and equal relationship between men and women. Abolition means that we still believe in love and peace between men and women.

That´s why, we need to establish the nordic model on a global basis otherwise, we continue to foment hate!

Thank you!

Dr. Ingeborg Kraus – Clinical Psychologist and Expert in Psychotraumatology



[1] International Abolitionist Conference in Buenos Aires, 17-19 May, 2018.

[2] Screening for Traumatic Brain Injury in Prostituted Women. Study done by Melissa Farley, Party E. Banks, Rosalie J. Ackerman and Jackeline M. Golding, April 2018.

[3] – International Labour Organisation: 21 million people are now victims of forced labour. Press Release, 01.06.2012.–en/index.htm

– UNODC 2009: Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. (80% of trafficked people are women/girls and 69% of those women end in forced prostitution).

[4] „Bordell Deutschland“ – ZDF Info Documentation. Author: Christian Stracke. November 2017.

[5] Michael Jürgs, Sklavenmarkt Europa, 2014, p. 327.

[6] Radio interview with the Dominatrix Ellen Templin, 08.03.2010.

[7] Manfred Paulus, Menschenhandel, 2014, Klemm + Oelschläger Verlag, p. 107.

[8] Der Spiegel, Bordell Deutschland. 27.05.2013.

[9] Manfred Paulus: Menschenhandel, 2014, Klemm + Oelschläger Verlag.

[10] Sabine Constabel, a social worker who has worked with prostituted women in Stuttgart für 20 years, made the following statements in a television interview on Oct. 17, 2013.

[11] Dr. Wolfgang Heide: Stellungnahme zur öffentlichen Anhörung zur 
„Regulierung des Prostitutionsgewerbes“ im Ausschuss für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Gesundheit im Deutschen Bundestag am 06. Juni 2016.

[12] 7th World Congress on Women´s Mental Health – Dublin, 6-9 March 2017.

[13] Dre Muriel Salmona: Pour mieux penser la prostitution: quelques outils et quelques chiffres qui peuvent être utiles. Chapitre 3: Violences avant l´entrée en situation prostitutionnelle.

[14] Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Do Not Buy Sex: new Sata on Prostitution and Trafficling. Melissa Farley, jacuqeline M. Golding, Emily Schuckman Matthews, Neil M. Malamuth, Laura Jarrett. August 31, 2015.

[15] Claudine Legardinier und Said Bouamama: Les clients de la prostitution, 2006, p. 235.

[16] Claudine Legardinier und Said Bouamama: Les clients de la prostitution, 2006, Kapitel 4: Les clients parlent, p. 111-211.

[17] Mouvement du Nid: Les clients en question, Étude sociologique & Enquête d´opinion publique, 2004.

[18] Udo Gerheim: Die Produktion des Freiers, 2012, p. 7.

[19] Dr. Ingeborg Kraus , Deutschland, das Land der betrogenen Frauen, Interview with a former sexbuyer, 28.09.2017.

[20] Dr. Ingeborg Kraus, Schattenfrauen, 29.03.2018.

[21] Carolin Emcke: Gegen den Hass. S. Fischer. 2016.

[22] Claudine Legardinier: Prostitution: une guerre contre les femmes, 2015, Editions Syllepse, p. 95.

[23] Dr. Inge Kleine: Freierbestrafung: das Gesetz in Frankreich und was wir davon lernen können. p. 3-11. Kofra 157. Sept./Okt. 2016.

One thought on “Against Hate, Nordic Model Now!

  1. Ulrike Röse-Maier

    very good and differentiated description of the complexity of problems caused by the system of prostitution in general and German prostitution law in particular

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