What I learned about prostitution in 20 years as a hairdresser in Berlin

By Rebecca

I suspect the proportion of those who choose prostitution voluntarily is very, very low.

I’m from Germany, a cesspool of human trafficking.

If I look around my city, Berlin, it’s just heart-breaking to see all the women and girls, trafficked, mostly from the Balkan states, with promises for a better future, who end up as prostitutes and do “jobs” for less than €10 just to survive.

I have worked as a hairdresser for 20 years and for all that time I’ve had women involved in prostitution among my clients. Women who are so mentally and physically broken that everyday life can only be endured with drugs, which brings them into the next vicious circle.

Women who are often in need of a hug and a listening ear.

I know streets in Berlin where girls and boys, many only about 16 years old and most from Bulgaria, are prostitutes. Our parks are full of heterosexual and gay prostitutes, often illegally or trafficked as refugees. Not to forget all the “apartment brothels” in normal apartment complexes who no one knows what happens behind the door.

When you see the women still “working” while half-dead because money has to be paid to pimps or the mafia; when you see the men in their cars, with a child seat on the back seat, who stop briefly to rape a woman for €10; then it doesn’t just change your view of society but it has also changed my view of men.

In Germany prostitution is legal. Those who have the “luck” to work in an official brothel have health insurance and pay taxes. And this is exactly why the government closes its eyes, because it’s a flourishing taxpaying business.

So prostitution and porn are always promoted as “free choice” and the seal of official work with a touch of kinky glamour, and the suggestion that these women live a life of glamour, are protected and have control. No one cares that most are trafficked and forced. And the ones who work in the streets are labelled as the worthless dirt of our society.

The government is part of this slavery and the men from all over the world who use it are busy ignoring the facts because they don’t care as well – because facing the truth would probably be a reminder of a completely lost moral compass.

I remember one guy once said in a conversation “What? Trafficked? I always thought they have fun, they don’t look sad” Yes, I work as hairdresser and I look happy 24/7 as well, because it’s my duty if I want be successful and get paid.

In the end, how we treat people reflects our personal morals and those of our society.

It is heart-breaking, because we should always have in mind that all those trapped in prostitution are the child of someone, a sister or a mom.

They are humans worth the same love as everyone else.

I’m happy for every single one who finds her way out and gets a loving partner or family and a good life.

If I look back, women in prostitution have been with me my entire hairdressing life.

Even in my apprenticeship as hairdresser, when I was still living in southern Germany, there was a Table Dance Club next to our salon where everyone knew that behind closed doors much more was available.

When the little van came on Saturday and it was cynically said that “fresh meat” would be delivered and the girl whose hair I did on Monday, was once again disappeared and once again a “new one” was there.

The sad thing is, that all those happenings are almost “normal” in Germany, which makes us blind to the stories behind.

But all those sad experiences opened my eyes in many ways to how we treat other human beings.

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