Nina de Vries
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Nina de Vries (born 1961) is a Dutch sex worker or sexual surrogate who offers erotic massages to intellectually disabled men and women in Berlin and other parts of Germany. She also trains others to do the same.
De Vries is nude when she massages her clients; these massages include embracing and caressing and sometimes culminate in her masturbating her clients to orgasm. She does not offer vaginal or oral sex. When needed her clients are accompanied by a caregiver or relative; these chaperons wait next door and may afterwards discuss the session with de Vries. Some of her typical clients have Down's syndrome, autism or suffered brain damage after an accident. Some of them are so severely limited that they communicate mainly by smiling or frowning. The services are not covered by German health insurers, but the welfare agency has occasionally paid for destitute clients. The price (in 2003) was €80 per hour and €110 when she visits clients in institutions (in Berlin) for disabled people.
De Vries does not reject the label "prostitute"; she herself uses the term "sexual assistant" (German: Sexualbegleiterin). Prostitution is legal in Germany (see prostitution in Germany), and sexual services for physically disabled persons are accepted and readily available; since 1995 the agency Sensis in Wiesbaden has connected clients and providers.
Sexual services for the severely mentally disabled are controversial, however: some think that these people should be treated as equivalent to children, and therefore cannot give valid permission, or do not need to engage in sexual behavior. Others fear that de Vries might misinterpret the often very subtle communication attempts of her clients. She maintains that although her clients may not be able to communicate verbally they usually are very clear in their communication; they do have a need for sexuality, and denial of this essential human need may lead to aggression or auto-aggression. She says the art is to relate in a careful and gentle way to establish a contact and to find out exactly what somebody wants and what he or she does not want. In her opinion and experience it is possible to work in a respectful way also with people who cannot communicate verbally.
De Vries trained as a therapist in the Netherlands and has lived in Berlin since 1990. In 1994 she started to offer erotic massages to regular clients, beginning in 1997 also to the disabled. Since 1999 she has worked almost exclusively with mentally disabled men; she appears to be the first person in Germany to do so. German newspapers have repeatedly covered her work and several documentaries were broadcast on German, Austrian, and Swiss television.
In April 2003 she was asked to train sexual assistants for the disabled in Zürich. These attempts faltered when the sponsoring organisation, Pro Infirmis, encountered resistance and suffered a considerable drop in donations. A separate organisation was founded in November 2003 to pursue the project, and de Vries trained 6 women and 4 men as Sexualbegleiter from January until June 2004. Erotic massages have since been provided to the disabled in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland. The Swiss organisation announced in August 2006 that it was planning to offer full sexual intercourse to its clients.
Sources and further reading
- Claudia Fromme: Die Berührbare, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 20 December 2003 (German)
- Swissinfo articles on the efforts in Zürich (English):
- Sexualassistenz in der Schweiz (German)
- Christian Brüser: Die Berührbare, www.behindertenarbeit.at, 15 September 2004 (German)
- Martin Franke: Nina de Vries im Interview, 24 August 2004 (German)