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Hamburg sex workers demand Germany's brothels reopen

by Reuters
Sunday, 12 July 2020 09:44 GMT

Sex workers wearing masks hold signs during a rally demanding the reopening of Germany's brothels, in the famous red light district Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany July 11, 2020. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

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Sex workers in Hamburg demanded brothels be allowed to reopen after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic

By Fabian Bimmer

HAMBURG, July 11 (Reuters) - Prostitutes demonstrated in Hamburg's red light district late on Saturday evening demanding that Germany's brothels be allowed to reopen after months of closure to curb the spread of coronavirus.

With shops, restaurants and bars all open again in Germany, where prostitution is legal, sex workers say they are being singled out and deprived of their livelihoods despite not posing a greater health risk.

"The oldest profession needs your help," read a notice held up by one woman in a brothel window in the Herbertstrasse, which was flooded with red light after being dark since March.

Some protesters wore theatrical masks while one played folk songs on a violin in the street just around the corner from the Reeperbahn, famous for its nightlife.

The Association of Sex Workers, which organised the protest, says the continued closure of licensed premises is forcing some prostitutes onto the streets, which is illegal and a far more dangerous and unhygienic way of working.

It said brothels could easily incorporate pandemic safety measures adopted by other industries, including face masks, ventilating premises and recording visitors' contact details.

"Prostitution does not carry a greater risk of infection than other close-to-body services, like massages, cosmetics or even dancing or contact sports," the association said in a statement. "Hygiene is part of the business in prostitution."

(Reporting by Fabian Bimmmer in Hamburg, Writing by Thomas Escritt, Editing by Catherine Evans)