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An old, slightly grainy picture on her cell phone shows a woman with peroxide blond hair, high heels and gaudy underwear, posing for the camera in a brightly illuminated hallway. Julia struggled to explain why she kept the photos. Perched on a couch, her makeup discreet, her plain plaid shirt buttoned up, she spoke eloquently and calmly about her time as a sex worker and her decision to leave the profession.
She told DW about the panic attacks that started creeping up on her almost every day a few months ago. Panic attacks, depression and insomnia are usual symptoms of the trade, according to Sabine Constabel. Constabel is convinced that sex work is nothing else than rape. It's a word she keeps on repeating. They're nothing more than dirt.
Women and men who voluntarily enter the trade? Nothing but a myth, propaganda propagated by lobbying groups propped up by brothel owners, she told DW. It's a distinction that German lawmakers also make. Sex work was officially recognized as a profession back in In theory, women and men can now register as sex workers and pay into the social insurance system.
So far, only a minority of sex workers do so. A law enacted in requires that brothels and prostitutes be better monitored. One thing is clear: There's a constant supply of women who enter the trade. The main reason driving women into prostitution, she explained, was poverty.