Amnesty International released a report on April 7, 2022, titled
If Housing was a human right, I wouldn´t live like this
Barrieres to accessing homeless assistance services in Austria
Download the report (pdf, 1 MB)
Excerpt from the report, page 31/32:
3.3 OTHER GROUPS AT RISK OF HOMELESSNESS
As elaborated in previous chapters homelessness is the result of an interplay between the state’s failure to address a range of structural causes as well as to respond to individual circumstances. The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing further underlined that homelessness is directly linked to systemic patterns of discrimination, and it disproportionately affects particular groups, including women, young people, children, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees, the working poor, and LGBTIQ persons.
Experts interviewed by Amnesty International in relation to the situation of homelessness in Austria for this research also noted that there are a number of particular groups disproportionately affected by homelessness, in particular sex workers and youth.
3.3.1 SEX WORKERS
Sex workers, in particular migrant women and transgender persons, are also at heightened risk ofexperiencing homelessness due to discrimination and stigmatization, especially on the private housing market. In Austria there were more than 6,400 officially registered sex workers in 2019. However, the actual number of sex workers in Austria is expected to be higher due to the fact that some sex workers might work informally. Of the 6,400 sex workers registered in the context of the mandatory medical examination, some 95% of the sex workers were migrants182 who are often mobile, and therefore likely to be rotating for a certain period of time between Austria and their countries of origin. According to a representative of LEFÖ, an organization for the empowerment of migrant women, sex workers are usually self-employed and the majority of them work in brothels, where they then also rent a room to live.183 The representative of LEFÖ further told Amnesty International that many sex workers face challenges in finding
their own apartment, as a proof of income is required to secure the apartment and sex workers experience stigmatisation due to their work.184 This stigmatisation is aggravated by the fact that ‘using apartments for prostitution’ (so-called Wohnungsprostitution) is forbidden by law.
The Covid-19 pandemic rendered sex workers at heightened risk of homelessness, as many brothels had to close, which also meant that sex workers lost their income and their place to live at the same time. The restrictions on international travel put in place at the beginning of the pandemic also meant that sex workers who are migrants could not travel back to their countries of origin, with the result that many sex workers were left in a limbo in Austria. The representative of LEFÖ explained that the organization documented several cases of women sex workers who found accommodation at their client’s house, increasing their risk of experiencing exploitation and abuse.
The information gathered for this research indicates that there are likely additional concerns for migrant sex workers who may be at increased risk of homelessness due to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. In addition, the criminalization of the so-called Wohnungsprostitution further exacerbates the risk of their rights being infringed, including their right to adequate housing.
With the publication of the report, it is also possible to support ai’s petition “Housing is a human right. For a decent home. For all.” and thus jointly demand urgent measures from the Austrian government.