BDSM sessions, blowjobs and restaurant visits with a happy ending are easier to get in Germany than a ten grass – still. That could change if the so-called sex buying ban should come.
Politicians from different parties are currently discussing a model that prohibits the purchase of sex: the Swedish model, also known as the Nordic model. This system would not directly criminalize sex workers, but it would criminalize their customers. The working group “Prostitution – where to?” Was initiated by Frank Heinrich (CDU) and Leni Breymeier (SPD).
Aya Velázquez works as an escort and slave in a BDSM studio. She is afraid that sex workers in Germany could soon be like Sweden. The Swedish model was introduced there in 1999. According to the professional association for erotic and sexual services (BesD), of which Velázquez is a member, the sex purchase ban also means that “any support for sex workers is illegal”. This includes, for example, the driving service on an escort date. “Children can be taken away from you. Adult children can be accused of pimping if they get money from their mothers,” says Velázquez. In Sweden, the sex purchase ban even led many sex workers to lose their homes. We spoke to Aya Velázquez about what a ban on buying sex in Germany could mean for her.
VICE: What would the Swedish model mean for your work?
Aya Velázquez: I honestly don’t want to imagine that. I am a high class escort. Hotels might not let me in if they recognize me for fear of criminal consequences. I have a lot of senior management clients who might stay away for fear of punishment. My escort portal Hetaera would have to close because hosting providers also cannot take the risk of promoting prostitution. All websites promoting sex work should disappear from the market.
All brothels will also have to close. The operators would “promote prostitution” – and that would be illegal under the Swedish model. The Dominastudio Lux in which I work would also be affected.
Our work would be moved to unclean, unsafe, dark corners: forest, field, corridor, parking lot. Safe workplaces would be completely eliminated. The good customers would stay away for fear of punishing themselves – the bad and unscrupulous customers would not.
How realistic do you think it is that the Swedish model comes to Germany?
Hard to say. At the moment, a lot is changing in politics. The Greens are on the rise. I hope that the law cannot be made with the Greens – not even under black and green. The SPD is in the self-discovery crisis, because at the moment you don’t know who will prevail: the Pietist Swabians or the enlightened, liberal Berlin? The CDU does not currently want the SPD to overtake it from the right. That is why some politicians from the CDU moved up very quickly when Leni Breymaier (SPD) approved the Swedish model. Everything is still open at the moment, but the morally motivated MPs are currently making the loudest noise and gaining influence. A few years ago, a discourse about a sex purchase ban in Germany would have been unthinkable.
Do you think that criminalizing prostitution leads to forced prostitution?
No, but it will make prostitution more precarious for all prostitutes. I’m also deliberately not talking about forced prostitution – prostitution in the strict sense is always voluntary. On the other hand, victims of human trafficking are victims of human trafficking. They don’t prostitute themselves, but are raped. The women I know who volunteer and enjoy doing it have never seen a woman who has been the victim of human trafficking. These two worlds don’t touch. But it is always pretended that there is a smooth transition between prostitution and human trafficking – this is simply wrong.
With the Swedish model, women will have much worse working conditions. Wherever a black market arises, new business models for organized crime emerge. Similar to alcohol prohibition or cannabis ban, it could grow on it. Human trafficking would remain. Mainly legal prostitution is currently affected by the law.
How often are you accused of not doing your job voluntarily?
Very rare. My experience is: the more intelligent people are, the less they have a problem with our job. Every now and then I have a customer who asks me if I would have thought about future problems because I can be seen with a face on the Internet. But I haven’t defined myself for a long time about what society thinks of me.
Does the Swedish model curtail your self-determination?
In any case. I feel that my fundamental rights have been violated, specifically in relation to Articles 1 and 12 of our Basic Law. The right to sexual self-determination is derived from Article 1, Article 12 grants the right to freely choose a profession. I like to work as a sex worker and have freely chosen this profession. It is part of my sexual identity to experience myself this way. It cannot be the case that the goal of combating trafficking in human beings is denied the unconditional rights of countless people who voluntarily engage in sex work.
In 2016, the law on the protection of prostitutes was enacted. What do you think about it?
For me, the law failed. The registration of prostitutes did not work. Many women are unable to register for private or professional reasons. The law is also a paternalism. For example, I now have to go to a health consultation every year – by force. That means I have to listen to a social worker every year like a toddler about health and contagious diseases. If I don’t go there, I lose my official work permit. I know a lot of colleagues who would like to work in a studio or in a brothel – but that doesn’t work because they don’t want to register. There are various reasons for this, including data leaks. A colleague was checked by a police officer on the freeway. He knew exactly what she was doing and spoke to her profession, although her passenger was not allowed to know about it. So we cannot trust this state. Under the prostitute protection law there are now two classes of sex workers, the registered and the not registered.
Why do you think that the legal situation could tighten at the moment?
The CDU co-founder and former Federal President of the FRG Gustav Heinemann once said: “You can recognize the value of a society by how it deals with the weakest of its members”. We prostitutes are among the most marginalized members of society. The fact that we are now being attacked so hypocritically indirectly is a symptom of our times and a sign of how far the CDU and SPD have moved away from the spirit of their founding fathers. In my eyes, it’s a reactionary trend. The AfD has pushed the boundaries of what can be said and the SPD and CDU are now trying to mobilize their conservative core electorate on the back of marginalized groups. The uncertainties of the globalized world make simple solutions attractive: ban burkas, ban whores. For me it’s a fascist tendency that we’re experiencing right now.
What would you like to see from politics in dealing with sex work?
Talk to us and not about us. The professional association for sexual services is open for discussions.
You are a member of the professional association for erotic and sexual services. Are you lobbying?
Yes, we are a very diverse alliance, from the tantra masseur to the street whore to the dominatrix, and have formulated specific political goals. We do not want the Prostitution Protection Act or the Swedish model in Germany. We require a comprehensive advisory network. We want health offers, but voluntarily. We demand professionalization for the job, which means training opportunities, for example German courses for migrants. We also want reasonable switch options.
No woman stops sex work if you offer her a cleaning job for 1.50 euros an hour. We also have a very heretical suggestion: the women who want to switch have incredible expertise in the erotic area. We could imagine using these women in education. That could be in adult education, but also in sex education in schools. On the cultural level, we would like to see the profession stigmatized and upgraded. We hope that sex work is valued as a social and artistic activity, that it is included in the “liberal professions”.