Debating Sex Work in Römer: CDU Contemplates a Sex Purchase Ban

The corridors of Römer echoed with heated discussions as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) stirred controversy in the city council on Thursday. Their proposal to put an end to what they termed “inhumane conditions” in prostitution, particularly in Frankfurts Bahnhofsviertel, drew both criticism and applause from various quarters.

Christina Ringer, the spokesperson for women in the CDU, lamented the lack of protection for individuals engaged in sex work, attributing it to a failure of legislation. While acknowledging a small proportion of voluntary sex work, Ringer emphasized that a significant number of prostitutes find themselves working involuntarily, trapped in poverty, misery, and often subjected to violence.

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CDU Advocates a Ban on Purchasing Sex in Frankfurt

The CDU’s proposal revolves around reintroducing the Prostitution Advisory Board in Frankfurt, dissolved in 2022, to initiate discussions about banning the purchase of sex. Christina Ringer suggested examining the experiences of the “Nordic Model” implemented in countries like Norway and Canada, acknowledging the diverse opinions surrounding it. This model proposes penalizing individuals who buy sex while decriminalizing the act for sex workers.

Additionally, the CDU proposes comprehensive educational and preventive measures. This includes activities in schools, public spaces, and the countries of origin of sex workers, such as Bulgaria and Romania, to raise awareness about human trafficking and forced prostitution. The CDU envisions similar programs for individuals purchasing sex, along with model projects to help sex workers exit the profession, potentially involving dedicated exit apartments.

Critiques from FDP and Greens

Unsurprisingly, the CDU’s proposals faced resistance from other political parties. Stella Schulz-Nurtsch, the SPD’s women’s policy spokeswoman, criticized the CDU’s suggestions as a “colorful bouquet of demands” she couldn’t fully support. While advocating for more assistance to sex workers and increased awareness in schools, she expressed reservations about the proposal’s reach, especially concerning activities abroad.

Isabel Schnitzler from the FDP echoed concerns, stating, “The CDU stigmatizes sex work and suggests that the majority of sex workers work involuntarily.” She warned that a ban could drive sex work further underground, pushing women into illegality. On the other hand, Monika Christiann of the Left Party supported a more robust discussion about the “Nordic Model” and rejected any stigmatization of sex workers.

Beatrix Baumann from the Green Party criticized the educational initiatives in Romania as “neo-colonialist” and deemed protecting women from prostitution as an “outrage.” Her group proposed launching a dark field study with Goethe University to gather missing figures on prostitution in Frankfurt, aiming for a more nuanced understanding of the complex issue.

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