While new authoritarian male leaders aim to create more divisions and fanatics want to build new walls and borders, FEMEN activists, aiming for more equality, destroy walls. This morning, the international team of FEMEN activists put down a wall that marked a no-go zone for women at Herberstrasse, the red light street in Hamburg. This metal barrier was erected in Nazi Germany in 1930s, to segregate prostitutes, the exploited women by the sex industry from the rest of society. From 1970s until today, this barrier is a symbol of gender-apartheid, as women are prohibited an entry to Herberstrasse. This metal barrier is a gateway to exploitation and violence against women and that is why it ought to be destroyed.
Prostitution is nothing else but a domination of one gender through exploitation, force or lie. In this trade majority of prostitutes are women and, majority of clients are men. Prostitution is not an equal sex act as the industry puts woman in a subordinate position, reducing her to an instrument of sexual pleasure for a client who pays money. Women are often forced into it by economic insecurity and are often either victims of trafficking or illegal immigrants, desperate for a chance to stay in Europe.
As prostitution is claimed to be a choice by some, it is a choice only because women continue to have limited opportunities that drives them into exploitation. Moreover, sex-industry can be defined by the lack of choice for prostitutes as the one paying for sex is paying for a “yes”. He’s buying a woman who makes sex with him only if he wants her to, when he wants her to, and in the way he wants and has paid and ordered her to.
Neither legalisation of the sex-industry, nor metal barrier of Herberstrasse can protect the prostituted women from violence and exploitation. Violence is the nature of sex industry and exploitation is prostitute’s “working conditions”. It is not possible to protect from violence someone, whose source of income exposes them to the likelihood of being raped every time they go to work.
The legalisation or silent approval of the sex industry does not only affects the lives and security of prostituted women but also reinforces patriarchal stigmatization of all women, that continue to be seen as sex-objects. We fight to end this!
FEMEN put down Herbestrasse wall to denounce sexual exploitation of women, human trafficking and sexual violence that is hidden behind those red metal gates.
We put down that wall because we refuse to see oppression as a profession.
We put down the wall to end gender segregation that takes place in the center of Europe. We refuse the politics of division that are threatening our society today.
Staying true to our feminist values, in the era of the #MeToo, we put down that wall to expose and denounce the industry that is built on sexual violence, where men dominate and women subjugate.
Let the sound of our loud saws, cutting off the metal barrier of Herberstrasse be the echo of the voices of all victims of sexual violence.
Today we put down the wall. Tomorrow the patriarchy will fall!