The government in Berlin has approved a bill introducing tougher controls for legal prostitution, sex workers and brothel owners in Germany. The draft includes health counseling for the workers and mandatory condom use.
German cabinet ministers backed the new prostitution law on Wednesday, setting it up for a parliamentary vote later in the year.
Although prostitution has been legal in Germany since 2002, many activists and political parties say the rules governing the sex industry are too lax.
The latest measures, however, establish tougher hygiene and safety standards in brothels, and introduce fines of up to 50,000 euros ($56,000) for clients not using condoms.
In doing so, the authorities aim to provide "better protection for women and men who are employed as sex workers," according to MP Elke Ferner, under-secretary for families, pensioners, women and young people at the family ministry.
Under the proposed law, people convicted of human trafficking would no longer be able to open brothels in Germany. Certain sexual acts, including group rape enactments, would also be forbidden. Additionally, the legislature would require prostitutes under 21 to attend health counseling twice per year, with older sex workers consulting medical professionals at least once a year.
Sex workers would also need to register with the local authorities.
Activist call the law a 'sham'
Advocacy group Sowoldi, which represents the victims of forced prostitution, decried the legal initiative.
"The law is absolute nonsense and a sham," Sowoldi founder Lea Ackermann said, claiming that the authorities would not be able to effectively control its application.
"Should we put a police officer in every room? When the client pays ten euro extra to the pimp, you could probably go without the condom," she said.
In turn, government spokesman Frank Kempe conceded that verifying condom use would be difficult, but added that was important to "set a standard" and back up sex workers who demand their use.