Monday, March 21, 2005

'If You Don't Take a Job as a Prostitute, We Can Stop Your Benefits'

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services" at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefits. Prostitution was legalized in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

The waitress received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile.'' When she called them she realised it was a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take any available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefits, as German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million.

"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral," said one official, "there is really nothing but the goodwill of the job centres to stop them from pushing women into jobs they don't want to do."

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