2019 Photo Contest, Portraits, 2nd Prize

Black Birds


Heba Khamis

17 July, 2018

Jochen (71) and Mohamed (21; not their real names) sit in the Tiergarten, Berlin. Jochen fell in love after meeting Mohamed, then a sex worker in the park. They have been dating for 19 months.

Prostitution between consenting adults is legal in Germany, and German aid charities have reported a marked increase in the number of young migrants turning to sex work. While they wait for their documents, refugees are not allowed to work legally or attend school. The German government prioritizes assistance to refugees from countries with an ongoing war; those seeking asylum from countries without war are placed in a second category, where papers take longer to complete. This lack of employment opportunity creates a severe lack of choice for many, with some young men becoming sex workers, sometimes to fund a heroin addiction. The Tiergarten, a large park in central Berlin, is a popular meeting spot for male sex workers and older clients. Mohamed now works in a gay bar, and is quitting heroin. He is not gay, and Jochen knows that, but being with Jochen was one of the less harmful options he had in life.

About the photographer

Heba Khamis

“Heba Khamis' projects show that she's able to work with very intimate and difficult topics in a compassionate and ethically correct way. Her project ‘Banned ...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
23 mm

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