The District

ragazza (e.V). is situated in the Hamburg Central Station district of St. Georg. Long known for its cultural and social diversity, St. Georg intermingles residential housing, offices, shops, small traders and places of entertainment with numerous cafés, pubs and bars: The typical features of a metropolitan Central Station district. This part of the city is also characterized by poverty, obvious homelessness, an open drug scene and prostitution – even though St. Georg is a prohibition zone and street prostitution has been an administrative offence since X.

Yet sex work and consumption of legal and illegalized drugs openly takes place on the street and in doorways. At the same time St. Georg has been involved in a political process of gentrification since the mid-Nineties, mainly characterized by economic interests: As a development district – being part of the project, “Active Urban Development”, St. Georg is increasingly being restored and modernized.  Consequences include rising rents and changes within population structure and local trade. Blatant poverty conflicts with gentrification, leading to a growing and systematic displacement of unwanted population groups – namely drug consumers and sex workers.

Many residents of the district regard the visible poverty and prostitution as a disturbance and a threat.  Newly established “up-market” businesses worry about their turnover. Within this process the problems of women engaging in street prostitution worsen steadily: Street prostitution in this district is a permanent issue for the girls and women consuming illegal drugs as it is a way of funding their consumption: There’s a permanent threat of being thrown off premises by private security or police: The danger of exposure to brutality, physical abuse and rape by a punter: The risk of having to comply with a punter’s request for precarious sexual practices, (e.g. unsafe sexual intercourse), out of necessity. The ongoing process of displacement and its effects mean that the social, physical and health risks for female users engaged in prostitution increase. In addition, their double stigmatisation is continuously evident.