What is prostitution?

Prostitution means that sex is offered in exchange for money or other benefits. People who work in prostitution are referred to as sex workers or prostitutes.

A sex worker and a client are talking at the entrance of a brothel

In Germany, prostitution is allowed under certain conditions

Children and young people under 18 years should be protected from prostitution.

  • Prostitutes must be at least 18 years old.
  • Young people under the age of 18 are prohibited from going to places where there is prostitution, such as late-night bars or nightclubs.
  • Prostitution near a school, apartment or other location where there are children and adolescents under 18 years of age is prohibited.
  • Cities and municipalities may specify districts in which prostitution is prohibited (restricted areas).

Prostitution must be voluntary

Since 2017 there has been a prostitute protection law in Germany. It is supposed to prevent people from being forced to prostitute themselves.

Anyone who wants to work in prostitution must register with an authority. Before the registration, a conversation will take place. The agency uses the conversation to find out if the person really wants to work voluntarily as a prostitute.

Anyone who forces someone to work in prostitution can be punished. Even a spouse may not force their partner to work in prostitution.

In Germany, nobody may be forced into prostitution.

If you are in such a situation, you have the right to help in Germany. For example, you can get help at the free phone line 08000-116 016. They can give you advice in several languages. During the consultation you do not have to tell them your name.

Prostitutes have rights and obligations in Germany

Prostitutes have the right

  • to refuse customers
  • to reject types of sex (e.g., oral sex, anal sex, etc.) that they do not want to do
  • to stop prostituting themselves at any time they want

Customers have no right to demand that their money be refunded from the prostitute if they were not satisfied with the service.

Prostitutes have the duty

  • to register at a public authority before starting work
  • to seek medical advice at least once a year.

Registration must be renewed every two years. Prostitutes under the age of 21 must renew the registration every year.

The law has only existed since 2017. It is not yet clear in all cities which authorities are responsible for registration and health advice. In many cities there are counseling centers where sex workers can receive counseling on their duties and rights.

Obligation to use a condom

Customers and prostitutes must ensure that condoms are used during sexual intercourse.

Put simply: Condoms must be used during sex.

It is forbidden to advertise for paid sex without a condom. In sex businesses, posters have to be hung indicating that condoms have to be used.

Customers can be punished if they demand sex without a condom.

The obligation to use a condom is there to help sex workers protect themselves and their health.

Dictionary and translations

Looking for help? Find a health professional.

Help