Data on women in prostitution in Germany: numbers, health, working conditions.

The German state never tried to collect comprehensive data. This in itself speaks volumes. How can they ensure equality between women and men, and also „safety“ in prostitution, if they don’t even bother to collect any data? But the sex industry thrives on people looking away to the point of permanently damaging their necks, spines and sight. Both literally and figuratively. 

Note on terms: The term „prostitute“ is used here as most of this is quotes and translations and was used in the original texts.


  • Data and numbers of women in prostitution and sex buyers, including prostitution venues
  • Origin of women in prostitution in Germany
  • Women’s health 


Data/ numbers:

Sorry, fresh out of data. Sincerely, the government.

Taken from the new law on prostitution, the prostitues‘ protection law:

The government placed some figures within the context of its new law, which was passed in September and has now been published in its finished version in the „Bundesgesetzblatt“ (last step to make it valid), although it will only come into effect on 1 July 2017. Since these are the figures put forward by the government itself, I’ll quote them. The fact that the prostitution market is highly gendered does not predominantly rate much mentioning in the motives/ justification for the proposal.

Full title: Gesetz zur Regulierung des Prostitutionsgewerbes sowie zum Schutz von in der Prostitution tätigen Personen. (Law for the regulation of the prostitution trade and for the protection of persons acting in Prostitution.)

The law has a set of „motives“ and „reasons“ and a kind of explanation in its draft „Problem und Ziel“. (Deutscher Bundestag; Drucksache 18/8556, 25.05.2016) It is here the government submits comments and figures.

It also states:

„The individual decision to offer sexual contact in return for renumeration or to demand such contact in return for renumeration is further on respected as expression of the right to sexual self-determination and the right to the free development of the personality; the exercise of prostitution as well as commercial activity in the environment of prostitution are also protected by Article 12 of the German Basic Law on the freedom of choice of profession and engaging in a profession.“ (page 33).

Numbers of prostituted persons (p.38):

Fast version: Nobody knows.

The „motives for the law“ deal with this question when discussing possible costs to municipalities in the wake of the law, my additions in […], here’s their data, p. 38 also lists their sources.

  • The costs cannot be given in exact numbers as there are hardly any definite figures regarding the field of activity of prostitution
  • The case numbers used in the formulation of the law are based on case numbers already submitted in the press or the economy as estimates as well as on calculations and estimates by the German statistical office (Statistisches Bundesamt)
  • Numbers of prostitutes between 150000 (1) and 700000 (2) (p.38), HYDRA e.V. estimates 400000 (3) prostitutes; this number is from the 80s, and thus is not useful. This number is taken as being too high, an essay from 2014 says this number is in excess of those actually in prostituiton in Germany (4) [ and see „Other sources“ below], a daily newspaper (die Welt) puts it at 200000. (5)
  • The final report by the round table in Nordrhein-Westfalen/ North Rhine – Westfalia [pro-prostitution] also confirms the 200000. (6)
  • estimates put forward by this round table speak of a „fluctuation“ of 25% of prostitutes in Germany annually as the market is very „dynamic“, this means a fluctuation of 50000 prostitutes a year. (7)

In other words: They have no idea. Nor do we.


Women in prostitution (p.58 of the „motives“):

No data, no figures provided by the government.

„Prositution is a market that is strongly characterized by asymmetries in the relationship of the sexes. Prostitutes are in the vast majority of cases female, this is true both of those who are engaging in their activity mostly independently and voluntarily under favourable conditions and of those prostitutes who are active under others‘ directions and in exploitative circumstances or in particularly problematic sectors of prostitution. Male prostitutes are a much smaller but not to be neglected group, that is less visible overall. Transsexual persons, transgender persons, transident [?] persons and intersexual persons are also engaiged in prostitution to a not insignifcant degree, for and for which partly particular market segments have developed. [the text does not povide any sources for this assessment.] On the side of the demand male clients dominate and dictate the market, without however taking responsibility for the situation of the prostitutes. Women demand, as far as is known, professional sexual services to a degree small enough to disappear; offers specifically designed for women are an exception. Thus the law with its aim to empower prostitutes in the assurance of their rights, to improve their working conditions and to push back exploitative forms of prostitution is also significant as regards equality politics. It contributes to at least partially compensating for disadvantages of the gender-asymmetical forms of prostitution. [my emphasis: „Nachteile der geschlechterasymmetrischen Ausprägungen der Prostitution zumindest teilweise zu kompensieren.“ – Is it enough for states to „at least partially compensate for disadvantages in equality“ in its laws? ] It is also to be expected that the implementation of the law will better uncover the needs in support and counselling of both male and female prostitutes and that groups that have perhaps as yet not been at the focus for example in male prostitution will become more visible. (p. 58)

Prostitution venues/ circumstances (p.38) (brothel of various kinds – i.e. those where the buyer picks a woman and goes to a room with her (=“Bordell“) and those where women sit outside their rooms in the corridors as the buyers walk through „Laufhäuser“; short lease small apartments with one or two rooms, street prostitution, and „love mobiles“ i.e. caravans and vans parked along streets and on parking sites):

Based on figures in the government evaluation of the prostitution act from 2005, ¾ of the prostitutes are self-employed, and ca. 10% have a working contract which does not mean however that the contract is actually for being a male or female prostitute, usually it names other forms of employment as „hostess“ or „bar keeper“. The remaining percentages were not specifically listed. (8)

The high number of self-employed prostitutes are active within the frame of a prostitution venue with varying degrees of integration into the proceedures there. The assumption is that overal around 90 % of the prostitutes are either active in prostitution venues in the understanding of art § of this law or independently beyond such a prostitution venue such as their own apartments, ca 10% are in street prostitution.

The number of prostitution venues as been calculated for all of Gemany based on the data provided by police in Lower Saxony / Niedersachsen. (9) This yields numbers of

  • 1700 prostitution vehicles
  • 10000 other prostitution venues (62% aparment brothels; 14% clubs, bars and saunas, 12% brothels, 1% other and less than 1% escort agencies
  • other forms of venues include those not subjected to government permits as they are not viewed as prostitution venues, that is those which are only engaged in by the male or female holder of the apartment without a third party profit.


Again: the German government has no idea, and estimations are based on what some people or advocacy groups see or choose to see, and then calculated with the aid of a crystal ball.


Sources quoted by the government regarding data:

(1), abgerufen am 29.4.2015.
(2), abgerufen am 29.4.2015.
(3),did=132012,textfragment=131998.html, abgerufen am 29.4.2015.
(4) Döring, Nicola (2014): Prostitution in Deutschland: Eckdaten und Veränderungen durch das Internet. Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart.
(5), abgerufen am 29.4.2015.
(6) Der Runde Tisch Prostitution Nordrhein-Westfalen: Abschlussbericht (2014), tion/frauen/RTP_Abschlussbericht.pdf, abgerufen am 17.6.2015.
(7) Sozialwissenschaftliches Frauenforschungsinstitut und Kontaktstelle praxisorientierte Forschung der Evangelischen Fachhochschule Freiburg (2005): Abschlussbericht zur Untersuchung „Auswirkungen des Prostitutionsgesetzes“, nen/prostitutionsgesetz/0302010403.html, abgerufen am 27.4.2015.
(8) Runder Tisch Prostitution Niedersachsen (2015): Abschlussbericht.


Other sources:

Also used by our government, I’m sharing them here as submitted.

Choice of words etc. does not indicate my endorsement.

Nicola Döring „Prostitution in Deutschland. Eckdaten und Veränderungen durch das Internet“ Zeitschrift für Sexualforschung, 2014/27, S. 99-137) lists these figures and their sources:

[Nicola Döring is highly critical of the Swedish model and of any criticism of prostitution, i.e. she is shares and repeats the choice of words and views and argumentation of the pro sex industry side. She calls much of the concern over human trafficking „a moral panic“ etc.,]


  • 64000 – 200000 prostitutes (Source Kavemann and Steffan 2013)
  • 90 % are women, 7% men and 3% trans*persons (with the following footnote: existing empirical data on the German prostitution market, as they are quoted in this essay, are mostly only to be seen as rough estimates due to non-representative samples and other methodical problems (Döring’s own footnote, p. 102) (source regarding the trans*persons: TAMPEP 2010).
  • 63% are from abroad, predominantly European countries (TAMPEP 2010)


  • The often cited number of 1.2 million buyers daily (TAMPEP 2010, 109) is probably an over-estimation [it was launched by pro-sex industry advocates like HYDRA in the 80s to make prositution seem both normal and important]
  • There is no genuine data
  • Women who seek sexual services by men, women or trans*persons are significantly fewer but certainly exist
  • There is sound evidence of female sex tourism with destinations like the Caribbean, Southern Europe and Africa, the exchange is sex and romanticsm against gifts of money (soruces de Albuquerque 1998, Herold et al 2001), [allegedly sound evidence]
  • A Danish evaluations showed 2,63% of the men questioned and 0,01% of women to have availed themselves of sexual services in the last half year (Kotsadam and Jakobsson 2012) – [careful – even if true, about Denmark.]


  • 81% of the prostitutes in indoor prostitution (TAMPEP 2010, 111) (large brothels/“eros-centers“, naked clubs/saunas; bar, porn cinema, dominatrix studio, trantra studio, massage saloon, etc. and so called „model“ oder „short lease apartments“)
  • An estimated 6% of prositutites are „escorts“ who meet clients in hotesl or the clients‘ homes. according to TAMPEP 2010, 111

„Forced prostitution/ trafficking“:

  • 2011 saw 640 cases, with a breakdown of 94% female, 78% not from Germany and 14% underage.

Döring’s Sources for the figures above:

  • Kavemann, Barbara, Steffan, Elfriede, „Zehn Jahre Prostitutionsgesetz und die Kontroverse um die Auswirkungen.“ In: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschehen 2013/9, S. 9-15. [Aus Politik und Zeitgeschehen is a government publication. It speaks out in favour of „sex work“, and has only one remotely critical article in the compilation.]
  • Kotsadam, A., Jakobsson N., Shame on you, John! Laws, Stigmatization, and the Demand for Sex. Eur J Law Econ 2012 (on Denmark)
  • de Albuquerque, K. Sex, Beach Boys and Female Tourists in the Caribbean. Sex Cult 1998;2: S.87- 111.
  • Herold, E., Garcia R., DeMoya T., Female Tourists and Beach Boys: Romance or Sex Tourism? Ann Tourism Res. 2001, S. 978-997
  • TAMPEP, European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers. Mapping of National Prostitution Scene: Nationals Coordinators Report 2008/2009. Amsterdam, NL: TAMPEP 2010, online document:


Origin of women in prostitution in Germany:

From TAMPEP – a pro sex work organisation:

Annex 4 – national reports, Germany,  pp. 109 ff (the report is from 2010)


2015 is addressed here: – but this is just blather. 
Then the BKA’s (Bundeskriminalamt – i.e. federal police) annual report on human trafficking, the Bundeslagebild Menschenhandel 2015
Page 5 of the report lists the nationality of the suspects / alleged perpetrators:
(142 German, 118 Romanian, 76 Bulgarian, 54 Hungarian, 30 Turkish, 14 Serb, 10 Albanian; 26 Asian, 16 Africa, 3 America, 49 unknown)
Page 6 lists the victims: 98 Romanian, 71 Bulgarian, 44 Hungarian, 7 Albanian, 5 Turkish, 5 Serb; 26 African (10 from Nigeria, 3 from Camerun, rest not stated); 9 Asian, 2 „America“). 
It is important to note that when victims are Bulgarian they are often (sorry, no numbers) from the Turkish minority in Bulgaria and when they are Romanian – this is important in the context of prostitution in Nazi camps – from the Romani minority in Romania. (The Roma, Sinti and other „gypsy“ groups were also marked for genocide by Nazi Germany.) 
The number of victims and of cases is far too low, but the relative numbers (breakdown of origins of the victims) might still be informative.



We don’t have these „showcases“ or „shopping windows“ like those in Amsterdam, probably due to our regulations regarding „the protection of minors“.

Stuttgart once tried to have a state-run brothel (it was supposed to be non-profit and self-administrated by the women in it). The experiment failed.


One year before the currently still valid law on prostitution was passed in 2001 (and became valid on 1 January 2002), the mandatory health checks for women in prostitution (up to them an examination every two weeks) were abolished (2000, valid as of 1 January 2001; before: „Gesetz zur Bekämpfung von Geschlechtskrankheiten/ law to combat veneral diseases; now: Gesetz zur Verhütung und Bekämpfung von Infektionskrankheiten beim Menschen (Infektionsschutzgesetz)/ Law for the protection and combatting against infections of people.
The issue of STIs was integrated into that of other infections, mostly laws on mandatory health checks for prostitutes were rendered void in this new law.). They were replaced by an offer to the women to have them done voluntarily and free of charge. Any health problems that were diagnosed beyond the most immediate were to be addressed elsewhere, i.e. not free of charge.
Since the health checks weren’t mandatory any more, the health offices (part of the public municipal health office) were closed down except for very few, the combination of very few services and their restricted opening hours together with the situation of most women in prostitution meant the women didn’t use these services which meant that the few remaining ones also closed down or restricted opening hours even more in many areas. Trier (Trèves on the French border) is an example, Florence Humbert can give us more details.

With the new law, health checks aren’t mandatory, but what is mandatory is „health counselling“ once a year for those 21 years of age +, twice a year for those 18-21. The women are to be informed about pregnancy, STIs and drug and alcohol abuse, the original draft of the law also included information on a healthy diet and on the fact that health insurance is compulsory. This has been taken out of the commentary/explanations that go along with the law. The women must present themselves for the health counselling in person, only translators may be present as third parties, and they are given a document that confirms their compliance with the obligation to be present.

Access to health checks is supposed to be improved. How this is to happen is a matter of the German states/ Laender.

The new law is making condoms complusory and fines buyers for failure to wear those. The fine can be set at up to € 50 000 (!). At the same time it only says „can be set at…“ which means that the various states can have their own regulations. (§ 33 Absatz 1 Nr. 3 and § 33 Absatz 3. of the new law (link see above).)

According to the „motives“ for this law, the „Begründung“: The reasoning for the fact that this is by far the highest fine (the other fines here are set at 5,000 to 10,000 €) is „the interest in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and thus in the protection of the prostitutes as well as their male and female clients and indirectly affected persons and the general population“ (Zu § 32, (Kondompflicht; Werbeverbot), Zu Absatz 1) and (tanslation of the quote below) „the highest possible fees are based on the legal goods concerned (sur la base des intérêts juridiques pertinents) to be protected by regulations. Due to the immense significance of the legal good of health and thus the protection of body and life a disregard of the regulation regarding mandatory condoms can be fined at a very high rate.“ The other regulations only regard those in prostitution themselves and „do not concern third parties“ and carry low fees, infringement of regulations by those running prostitution venues depend in their seriousness, but since they only hurt the legal goods of the prostituted the fines are not like the one regarding the condoms, they’re within a 5000 to 10000 € range. Full German quote see below, footnote 1.

(full German quote:
Zu § 33 (Bußgeldvorschriften)


Zu Absatz 3

Absatz 3 regelt die jeweiligen Bußgeldrahmen bei Ordnungswidrigkeiten nach Absatz 1 oder Absatz 2 und orientiert sich bei den gesetzlichen Höchstwerten an den Rechtsgütern, die mit den verletzten Vorschriften geschützt werden sollen. Aufgrund der immensen Bedeutung, die dem Rechtsgut der Gesundheit und damit des Schutzes von Körper und Leben zukommt, können Verstöße gegen die Kondompflicht mit sehr hohen Bußgeldern belegt werden.

The prostituted/ health:


Wolf Heide is a gynaecologist/ obstetrician who helps women in prostitution. He does medical exams and provides care. This is from his statement given to the Deutscher Bundestag in a hearing preceding the new law. His statement in brief: The overuse and abuse of the women’s sexual organs leads to inflammations, STIs and beyond STIs, and of course this situation makes them much more vulnerable to STIs, as the usual resilience other adult women have to STIs (or in fact any other disease) is damaged: Bruising, tearing, abrasions in/on those organs, means the slightest infection will lead to illness, and in addition, those in street prostitution are out at all times in very little clothing, miniskirts, thin stockings, which again harms, and then their general life style damages any immune-system a normal healthy adult has. (Obviously this will not be helped by condoms, as the overuse, abrasions and exposure to damaging surroundings etc. will continue.)

He also says that these inflammations often lead to damage to the internal reproductive organs, e.g. the fallopian tubes, and this means that the women become infertile, i.e. they won’t be able to have children if they ever want them later, a strong denial of their reproductive rights, and of health. This is especially true as the women are in prostitution throughout these illnesses, inflammations etc., which means the abuse and causes continue while they should be healing. It subjects them to intense pain and exacerbates the illnesses, wounds, inflammations.

  • A medical journal found that especially younger women under 20, without any health insurance, in street prostitution, with hardly any knowledge of German, had an increased risk of STIs. (Ärztezeitung Nr. 62 vom 01. 02.2016 Seite 4; this is about a study by the German Robert Koch Institut from 2011, based on almost 10000 medical exams by 29 municipial health offices. The Robert Koch Institut (RKI) is roughly comparable to the Institut Pasteur)
  • The prostitutes he sees suffer from chronic lower abdominal pain due to inflammations and to mechanical trauma that are hard to treat medically. Due to the high rents they have to continue to serve clients even while suffering from unbearable pain. They also suffer from stomach inflammations.
  • They show premature ageing, a symptom of persistent permanent stress.
  • In addition to the injuries to be expected from the overuse of the sexual organs there are those inflicted by punters on purpose.
  • They are often subjected to late abortions which also carries risks of damaging their health, and they often do these in their home countries as Germany only permits abortions in the first 12 weeks, and the medical costs are high. It is not clear who makes the decision about the abortions.
  • In addition the STIs also increase risks of damages to the women or to the fetus. He cites late miscarriages or severe disabilitites due to Sypilis, or of early miscarriage and sceptic reactions due to gonorrhoea.
  • According to his statement he had to write several medical notes for a pregnant woman who wanted to exit prostitution but wasn’t accepted in a specific welfare (Hartz IV) measure. It took three court cases to finally declare that it is inacceptable for a pregnant woman to work in prostitution (i.e. to expect her to be there) (Aktenzeichen Landessozialgericht Stuttgart: L 3 AS 4449/15 ER-B und L 3 AS 4450/ 15 B.)

  • Women are back in prostitution 3 days after giving birth, even while suffering from the usual injuries left by vaginal birth. Bing back in prostitution, with 15 to 30 buyers a day can leave lasting damages up to lasting incontinence.
  • Women often hide their pregnancies in order to be safe from pressures from their envionment, in order to be able to work during pregnancy, in order not to be pushed into the special market for pregnant women.
  • In his estimation 90% of all the prostitutes he sees do not have any health insurance, findings also seen by a study of the Robert Koch Institut from 2014 ( Ärztezeitung Nr. 62 01.04.2016 Seite 4), the reasons for this are lack of language skills and the costs.
  • The abuses lead to a high consumption of drugs / psychotropic medication.


These are the links to the Robert Koch Institut studies/ workshops; they worked together with the German Aidshilfe, one of the largest and richest NGOs in Germany that is 100% in favour of „Sex Work“ and the decriminalisation of all of its aspects.


A medical dissertation on the state of infection among prostitutes in Lübeck in comparison to a similar group of monogamous women, published in 2007 showed these results, green for those in prostitution, orange for the other group:

Untersuchung zum Infektionsstatus von Prostituierten in Lübeck. Inauguraldissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde.der Universität zu Lübeck – Aus der Medizinischen Fakultät – vorgelegt von Anna Wolff aus Hamburg, Heidelberg 2007

Tabelle – Vergleich zwischen einer Gruppe an in der Prostitution in Lübeck und einer (monogamen) Kontrollgruppe:


German study by the Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youths in 2004 examined the situation, safety and health of women in Germany.1

The study also surveyed 110 women in prostitution and asked them about their experiences of violence from the date of their 16th birthday. 92% had experienced at least one form of sexual harassment, 82% named forms of emotional violence, 87% had been exposed to at least one form of physical harm. 59% had experienced at least one form of sexual violence. 36% named physical injuries as a result of the different forms of sexual violence. The most frequent form were bruising (75%), lower abdominal pains (52,5%), bodily pain (47,5%), injuries to the vagina (37,5%) and open wounds (27,5%). 2

This results in high rates of medical drug consumption: 67% of the women had used pain medication in the last 5 years, 38% had used sedatives, 37% sleeping pills, 34% anti-depressants, 19% stimulants and 10% other medications. 3 The authors of the study come to the following conclusion: “A comprehensive view of these results […] shows that the women in this survey are highly exposed to dangers and damages to their bodies and emotional well-being that are likely to be connected to their situation in their profession.” 4

Unfortunately the study did not differentiate between „before“ and „after“ the full and federal legalization of brothels, of certain types of pimping and of trafficking (i.e. everything not deemed „explotative“), but prostitution had been legal anyway and brothel keeping wasn’t prosecuted any more, hadn’t been for quite some time.

Source for citation reasons (German, no English translation):,property=pdf,bereich=bmfsfj,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf

(footnotes refer to these sites):

(1) German Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youths, “Life situation, Safety and Health of Women in Germany”, Berlin 2004,,,property=pdf,bereich=bmfsfj,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf

(2) ibid,. p. 478

(3) ibid,. p. 529


Directions to the prostituted in the brothels

In recent years, brothel owners have become more careful. In theory the women in the brothels are „independent contractors“, i.e. negotiate the conditions by themselves. In practice they need to get the money together for the rent for the rooms. As they are „independent contractors“ and freely rent these rooms according to the set up, whatever they do is seen as engaged in „voluntarily“ as they are free to leave if they don’t like the conditions. In practice this often means homelessness.

The Paradise in Stuttgart was known to have „special days“ including „naked days“ where the women had to walk around naked. In this brothel, buyers have a „money back“ guarantee, if they aren’t happy with the services.



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