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Farid sheepishly stands before a small bathroom shelter at the entrance of Berlin's central Tiergarten park. Young men are going in and out, looking tired and worn out.
Older men stop by off and on, while Farid appears tense. He darts his eyes here and there as if he is waiting for someone. The year-old came to Germany from Afghanistan, and now earns money in Tiergarten near the Victory Column through prostitution.
This, he says, is his only way to make a living. As other German media have previously reported, Farid is not alone in his occupation as a prostitute, which is legal in Germany. Exactly how many refugees in Germany are prostitutes, no one knows. The Berlin refugee aid organization Moabit hilft Moabit helps say they know of between 20 to 25 young Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, and Syrians in Tiergarten alone who since the beginning of last year are earning money through prostitution.
All of them are men, says Moabit hilft chair Diana Henniges. Part of why they do not know the total number is due to the language barrier. Farid, who did not wish to give his real name, left his homeland when he was ten years old. From there he went by foot to Iran. Two years ago, he left to come to Germany. His asylum application is still being processed.
He does not know whether his family is still alive. As Farid speaks, other young men continue to come and go. According to helpers, there are no minors present. But the other young men do not want to talk because they don't want their families to know what they're doing in Tiergarten. An older Iranian man, who says he is not there to sell sex, says that the rest are there for that reason. Four to five of them are HIV-positive. According to Moabit hilft, part of what drives refugees to prostitution is that during the asylum application process, they have no access to language or integration classes.