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Finding Job Security for Sex Workers in Germany
Sarah Rich, 24 May 07

In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, an experimental program recently launched to provide training and employment to female sex workers in need of better job security. The program trains prostitutes to become elder-care workers, which may sound like an unlikely job transition, but happens to be quite logical. In part, this is because "Prostitutes have already learned to get along with people, and they're usually very good listeners. Plus, they have no reservations about touching people's bodies," said Rita Kuehn, the director of the program known as ProFridA. But it's not just about having compatible people skills, it's about using human resources intelligently in a country where the population is aging and facilities to support them suffer severe staff shortages.

Numerous creative solutions have been employed to try to deal with the shortage, including excusing 100,000 German men (or 0.25% of the male population) each year from military training to spend their nine months of obligatory national service "in facilities that care for the elderly or handicapped, making home visits, or running errands for the housebound."

Establishing a bridge between working the streets and caring for the elderly and infirm forms an important net of complementary support for two sectors of society that often get pushed to the periphery. The program serves, on one end, a population with unpredictable job security (made worse by the legalization of sex work in 2002), and on the other, a population that is wholly dependent on assistance from able-bodied aides. All parties gain the reassurance of knowing their futures will be supported and they'll be able to live well. Thus far the program has trained 50 people, but interest seems high and there's plenty of space to fill.

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Amazing that such an experimental program is taking place and equally amazing that worldchanging puts the word out. I have not clicked on worldchanging for about 4 weeks because of my travels and within five minutes of doing so, I come across compelling ideas that prompt me (force me) to comment.

Sarah, Alex et al, keep up the good work.

Posted by: Subbarao Seethamsetty on 24 May 07

Nice to see the experiment of two segments of population complementing each other's needs. In India Sex workers are a taboo and they have no legal support for existence. Kudos. Vyasamoorthy

Posted by: Vyasamoorthy on 25 May 07



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