April 23, 2014

Did Germany’s legalized prostitution raise the number of trafficking cases as often claimed?

By Baerbel Heide Uhl, November 9, 2010.

In an article in the Human Rights Examiner, Youngbee Kim reported that “German chief police reported yesterday sex trafficking is on the rise in the country. The chief officer also said that sex trafficking has increased 11 percent from last year and 70% over five year period. While many advocates for legalized prostitution argued that legalization should improve the rights of prostitutes and eliminate discrimination, the case in Germany shows otherwise. Rather, the sex industry in Germany became a magnet for sex traffickers from Eastern Europe and African countries. Further, it became a source of exploitation of German as well as other foreign women rather than their emancipation to support their right to sell their bodies.” More here.


The assumption that the law on prostitution caused an increase of trafficking cases does not hold out against the official statistics in Germany. The German Federal Criminal Police annual statistics on trafficking in human beings actually state the opposite.  There is no increase in victims of trafficking according to police statistics:

2000 – 926 victims

2001 – 987 victims

2002 – 811 victims (law on prostitution enacted)

2003 – 1235 victims

2004 – 972 victims

2005 – 642 victims

2006 – 775 victims

2007 – 689 victims

2008 – 676 victims

2009 – 710 victims

Source:  http://www.bka.de/lageberichte/mh/2009/bundeslagebild_mh_2009.pdf

After a rise in 2003, the number of cases has actually fallen under the number of victims in the year the law decriminalizing prostitution was adopted.

The decrease in victims raises the question of whether the law can be causally linked to the decline or whether the decrease was due to other reasons.  Research is needed to answer this question.

For the full response by the German anti-trafficking and anti-violence against women network, the KOK,: http://www.kok-buero.de/data/Gegendarstellung_080610.pdf

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