The Dona Carmen association, which advocates for the social and political rights of sex workers, is calling on the Frankfurt city government to establish a boarding house for sex workers in municipal ownership. The aim is to address the issue of precarious housing situations for prostitutes and provide a solution for another major problem.
The coronavirus pandemic has made the problem of women’s housing situation visible, according to Gerhard Walentowitz, a member of the association’s board. Dona Carmen has gathered extensive experience during the pandemic, providing counseling to around 200 sex workers. As a result of prolonged closures of brothels, some of the women applied for unemployment benefits. However, there were many hurdles to overcome, including undocumented income, self-employment, lack of health insurance, poor language skills, and, in many cases, a lack of a bank account.
The women needed help
But the most precarious issue was the women’s housing situation. Of the 118 women who had applied for benefits, 36% were staying with acquaintances or people from their ethnic community, 33% were staying in hotels, and only 13% had their own apartments. The majority were homeless but not to be confused with being without shelter. Nonetheless, these women needed help. In the end, only 19 people received assistance with their accommodation costs out of the 118 applicants. The women staying in hotels did not receive any assistance from the Jobcenter Frankfurt and had to pay the monthly costs of €1,500 to €1,800 themselves. Walentowitz considered this to be unlawful behavior by the job center. According to the SGB-II commentaries, the cost of a suitable hotel room can be recognized as a housing requirement. The rooms cost between €35 and €60 per day.
Even if the job center considered these costs to be inappropriate, it would have to carry out a cost reduction procedure and explain what rental price it deemed appropriate. None of this was done, however. Walentowitz stated that this was clearly the job center’s line of behavior. Normally, legal action would have been necessary, but the voluntary association was simply overwhelmed by everyday business, which was also characterized by objections and lawsuits before the social court due to general unemployment benefit applications. The Jobcenter Frankfurt did not comment on the allegations on Thursday.
The financial pressure on the women ultimately led to many of them offering their services “in the informal sector,” i.e., on the street, in hotel rooms, or apartments, due to the closed brothels. This trend is still continuing today, and it is a development that the city of Frankfurt does not like to see. The Dona Carmen association also prefers professional structures because they offer safety and better hygiene facilities for sex workers.
The facility should not be a place for sexual services
A boarding house would alleviate the financial pressure on the women and allow them to withdraw from the informal sector. This is also the wish of many women, according to the association.
Dona Carmen is calling for a facility with at least 50 places, situated in the Bahnhofsviertel district or nearby, to be supported by the municipality.
Sex workers and brothels could also contribute financially. The facility should not be a place for sexual services, but could serve as a registered address and even provide space for counseling. “We expect the political parties to take responsibility now, before the problem of informality gets out of hand,” said Walentowitz.
The Dona Carmen association has pointed out that a boarding house would provide a safe and supportive environment for sex workers who are facing precarious housing situations. Such a facility could help to address the issue of violence and exploitation in the sex trade, which is a serious problem that sex workers face on a daily basis.
The association has called on the Frankfurt city government to take responsibility for the well-being of these women and provide them with the support they need. A boarding house would be a step in the right direction, as it would provide a safe and supportive environment for sex workers to live and work in.
The Dona Carmen association has also emphasized that a boarding house would be an important tool in the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The association has been providing support to victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation since 1985, and it has seen firsthand the devastating effects of these crimes on the lives of women and children.
The association has urged the city government to take action and establish a boarding house for sex workers as soon as possible. The housing situation for these women is urgent, and they need a safe and supportive environment to live in. The city government has a responsibility to address this issue and ensure that these women are provided with the support they need to live happy and healthy lives.
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