In December 2014, Dr. Ingeborg Kraus, a German psychologist, initiated a petition signed by prominent trauma experts calling on the German government to repeal the 2002 law that decriminalized prostitution. In an interview with CATW’s Executive Director, Taina Bien-Aimé, Dr. Kraus discusses her reasons for starting the petition and the reality of prostitution for women in Germany. She also recently launched a Change.org petition urging Chancellor Angela Merkel to create a legal framework that will outlaw the buying of sex and support survivors. Please join them in their efforts by signing this petition.
The World Post: Germany Wins the Title of ‘Bordello of Europe’: Why Doesn’t Angela Merkel Care?
Interview by: Taina Bien-Aimé, CATW
In 2002, Germany decriminalized prostitution, reportedly due to pressure by the sex trade lobby and a few brothel managers who petitioned the government to develop safety standards and reduce the stigma and violence found in the sex trade. This law effectively rendered the prostitution industry a legitimate business. Today, this experiment is failing. Violence, abuse and trauma have increased for prostituted women in Germany. Some 400,000 women are now in prostitution, the vast majority poor women from abroad, with a linked exponential spike in sex trafficking. Alarmed by this state of affairs, prominent German trauma experts and psychologists signed a petition in December 2014, calling on their government to repeal its decriminalization law as a preventive measure against sexual violence and trauma. Below is an interview with Dr. Ingeborg Kraus, who initiated the petition.
At international level Melissa Farley a.o. have published the most relevant results with data from nine different countries (2004). According the study two-thirds of the examined 854 women in prostitution showed symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), which were comparable with them of healthcare-seeking veterans, women who fled to shelters, rape survivors and refugees who were exposed to state-sanctioned torture. The intensity of trauma-related symptoms depended on the intensity of the activity in prostitution. Women with multiple suitors reported harder physical symptoms. The longer the women were active in prostitution, the more likely they were infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
Click here for the study “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” by Dr. Melissa Farley.
Dr. med. Wolfgang Wöller
The tendency of victims of physical or sexual childhood abuse to become revictimized in later life has well been documented empirically. Moreover, there is a high stability of violent and abusive relationships. The aim of this paper was to summarize perspectives from psychodynamic theory, attachment theory, and posttraumatic stress research to explain revictimization phenomena. The term repetition compulsion has little explanatory valuewithout additional theoretical assumptions.
After 3 years in prostitution, I almost jumped out a window – from the third floor. That was how prostitution made me feel, – that I had nothing to live for. I had been sexually violated so many times, that there was almost nothing left of me – neither inside, or outside. I was nothing. I was worth nothing. I felt completely useless. I was a machine for other people’s amusement, their sexual desires and their perverse exploitation.
I spent 9 years in therapy, to get where I am today. And even though I persist in telling about the violence experienced in prostitution I still live with the traumas and the re-traumatizing. But we, as survivors have to. We have to keep on telling about the violence, so no one will ever forget or be manipulated into thinking, that prostitution is even close to something you can define as sexwork.
by Dr. Ingeborg Kraus
Prostitution is often portrayed as a completely normal thing, something that has always existed. This usually involves very little thought of the women in prostitution. If it does, the argument of ‘choice’ is very quickly brought up. Who wants to take on the role of a person who sanctions or judges?