In the last 15 years, the number of prostitutes along the border between Germany and the Czech Republic has increased dramatically, and so have the brutality and the miserable situation of these women and children. Cathrin Schauer, nurse and social worker, gives advice, health care, and human care to more than a thousand of these women and children, most of whom are victims of trafficking. She and her co-worker are the only ones assisting them. For this work Cathrin founded the organization Karo whose public funding has run out, so it is now fully dependent on private donors.
On an approximately 250 km-long stretch along the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, a new scene of prostitution established over the last 15 years. The number of prostitutes and clients has increased dramatically, and so have the brutality, hierarchical systems of the gangs, and the miserable situation of the women and children. Virtually without exception, the clients come from Germany. Among the more than thousand prostitutes are women, girls, and an increasing number of children coming from the Czech Republic, Eastern Europe and some from Asia. This is the work place of Cathrin Schauer. A nurse and social worker, she visits every place in the biggest red light district of Europe once a week, the street walkers and the brothels. She brings them condoms, advice, and a glimpse of normality. “Every day I meet women who were never really asked how they feel. Just to listen to them, to embrace them, to listen to the problems of their desperate lives brings help.” But this is only a part of her work. Over the years, she has helped 168 women to get out of prostitution. She has opened a consultation center in the city of Cheb, in the Czech Republic, named after her friend Marita P., who died of AIDS. Cathrin wrote a book about the situation and started campaigns to raise public awareness. She and her co-worker are all the help the prostitutes can get in the region. Funds have run out; thus, the organization Karo e.V., which Cathrin founded, is financed only by private contributions. “I wish the politicians who are responsible for the distribution of funding would accompany us just for 24 hours. Nobody can imagine how these women and children have to live. It is no marginal problem. The scale and misery of prostitution in this region indicate a fundamental problem at the core of the whole society. Germany must take responsibility.”