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Justice Minister Buschmann: "For many years, we had only one direction in criminal law policy: faster, higher, further"

Photo: Britta Pedersen / dpa

Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann does not think much of a ban on the purchase of sex, as Sweden, France and some other European countries have introduced. "I think the most important thing is that any exercise of coercion against women must be prevented, so to speak, also by means of criminal law," the FDP politician told the dpa news agency when asked whether he was in favor of punishing punters.

Part of a planned reform of the penal code is the deletion of a provision that regulates prostitution in restricted areas and makes prostitution in restricted areas a punishable offence if one "persistently violates". If Buschmann's plan were to be implemented as planned, a violation of restricted district ordinances would only be an administrative offense, but no longer a criminal offense.

Draft law coming in the first half of the year

"It is clear that such exclusion district orders can still be issued," said Buschmann. The fact that municipalities ban prostitution from areas "that, if you like, form the parlour" or nearby schools or kindergartens "makes sense in the toolbox". And if there is a restricted area, it makes sense to enforce it.

Since 2002, prostitution is no longer immoral in Germany and is considered a normal trade. The red-green coalition at the time wanted to improve the legal and social situation of prostitutes with the prostitution law. However, from the point of view of many experts, the opposite has happened. Instead of protecting the victims, the position of brothel owners, the sex industry and the clients was strengthened.

In 2017, the Prostitute Protection Act was introduced. Above all, it imposes requirements under trade law: brothels now require an operating license, prostitutes are obliged to register their activity and go to health counseling. At the end of November, Buschmann presented key points for the planned reform of the criminal code, which, among other things, is intended to decriminalize fare evasion. According to him, a concrete draft is likely to be expected in the first half of 2024.

Union sees Germany as the "brothel of Europe"

Criticism of Buschmann's plans comes from the Union. "The deletion reduces the protection of young people and the general public from harassment intended by the provision, while at the same time the women concerned are further sanctioned with the law on administrative offences," criticized the deputy chairwoman of the Union parliamentary group, Andrea Lindholz.

It would be better to have a consistent ban on the purchase of sex, the CSU politician believes. "Germany has become the brothel of Europe, and women are exploited under the most adverse conditions." Human trafficking and forced prostitution have reached new dimensions. Organized crime dominates the scene. The German state must not tolerate this.

In September, the European Parliament passed a resolution in which the so-called Nordic model is positively evaluated. According to this model, punters have to fear punishment, but prostitutes do not. In Germany, the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, among others, has backed this proposal. The Parliament's resolution criticises the different legislation on these issues in the Member States of the European Union, because this encourages human trafficking.