Berlin brings prostitutes in from the cold

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The Independent Online

Liberation is at hand for the most downtrodden members of Germany's working classes after the government unveiled plans yesterday to legalise prostitution ­ a step that will entitle the oldest profession to social security and enable clients to be sued if they refuse to pay.

Liberation is at hand for the most downtrodden members of Germany's working classes after the government unveiled plans yesterday to legalise prostitution ­ a step that will entitle the oldest profession to social security and enable clients to be sued if they refuse to pay.

The draft law seeks to create the "best possible framework for the pursuit of prostitution", which German law has deemed "immoral" since 1901. Although its practitioners are allowed to pay tax on their earnings, they cannot claim state welfare. Now they will be able to pay into social insurance schemes including pensions, and also draw from them in times of need. A prostitute laid off by her employer will be able to go on the dole.

Christine Bergmann, Germany's Minister for Women, said: "Millions of men go to prostitutes and hundreds of thousands of women service them.We can no longer treat these women as pariahs. They need social as well as legal security."

Up to 400,000 prostitutes are estimated to ply their trade in Germany, generating annual earnings of £4bn.

The draft bill will have its first reading in Parliament on Friday and is expected to be passed quickly.

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