Registered sex workers in Germany fall sharply in pandemic

Official figures show the number of people registered as sex workers with the German authorities fell sharply last year as coronavirus restrictions closed brothels for months.

In 2002 legislation legalized and regulated prostitution in Germany, providing social benefits to sex workers, and they are now obliged to register. But brothels have been closed for a long time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit as part of a wider lockdown in March 2020.

The Federal Statistics Office said that at the end of last year, 24,940 prostitutes were officially registered with the authorities. This was down from around 40,400 a year ago – a drop of 38%.

One fifth of the registered sex workers were German citizens. They were joined by 8,800 Romanians, 2,800 Bulgarians and 1,800 Hungarians, among others.

It is not clear how accurate the business status figures paint a picture. Among other issues, registration processes were also hampered by the pandemic and reporting procedures have taken time to establish in recent years.

By some past estimates, more than two-thirds of sex workers are not registered. The statistics office said it was unable to provide information on unregistered sex workers and brothels.

The number of officially sanctioned establishments offering sexual services – most of them brothels or similar – at the end of last year stood at 2,290, a 5% increase from the 2,170 registered a year earlier.


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