BERLIN (AP) – The number of people registered as sex workers with German authorities fell sharply last year as coronavirus restrictions shut brothels for months, official data showed on Thursday.
In 2002 legislation legalized and regulated prostitution in Germany, gave sex workers social benefits, and they are now obliged to register. But brothels have been closed for a long time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit as part of a wider lockdown in March 2020.
The Federal Statistics Office said that at the end of last year, 24,940 prostitutes were officially registered with the authorities. This was down from around 40,400 a year ago – a drop of 38%.
One fifth of the registered sex workers were German citizens. They were joined by 8,800 Romanians, 2,800 Bulgarians and 1,800 Hungarians, among others.
It is not clear how accurate the business status figures paint a picture. Among other issues, the registration process was also disrupted by the pandemic and reporting procedures have taken time to establish in recent years.
By some past estimates, more than two-thirds of sex workers are not registered. The statistics office said it was unable to provide information on unregistered sex workers and brothels.
The number of officially sanctioned establishments offering sexual services – most of them brothels or the like – stood at 2,290 at the end of last year, a 5% increase from the 2,170 registered a year earlier.