BERLIN, January 31, 2005
News agencies around the world are carrying the story of a young German woman, a qualified information technologist, who has been told that she faces suspension of her government relief benefits if she refuses to take a ‘job’ as a prostitute in a Berlin brothel.
The unemployed woman, who has not been named, had indicated her willingness to take jobs outside her field and has worked in a café. Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that the woman, who has not been named, received a phone call offering her an interview for a job. She did not realize the ‘job’ was prostitution in a brothel until she telephoned. After the woman refused, she was told by the job centre that her benefits would be cut off if she did not go into prostitution.
Germany’s unemployment rate has reached the highest levels since reunification in 1990 and its welfare laws have recently been reformed. The new welfare regulations and the legalization of prostitution have combined to create a situation where women can be ‘sold’ by the state into sexual slavery.
German law no longer considers prostitution, or as it is called, the ‘sex trade,’ to be immoral or inherently undesirable. Legalised German brothels are starting to avail themselves of national listings of unemployed women to ‘hire’ to perform sexual services. Under German law, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job or loše her unemployment benefit.
“There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry" Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases, said. He added, “The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits.”