Fired from dole for not prostituting?!

This, from the Telegraph:

German government: ‘If you don’t take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits’

[color=green][size=84]*Note to moderators: I debated whether to post this in the Open forum or in IP. The reason I chose Open was that the issues of employee rights, government intervention in the labour market, the dichotomy of

Not that I agree with the practice but is working for e.g. a sex hotline considered prostitution?

If not then the title and parts of the article are misleading. There might be no law against it but then there is no indication that women are actually asked to work as prostitutes, instead ‘jobs related to sexual services’ are being offered.

That would have been the wisest choice, I think. I don’t know about Germany, but the U.S. government allows certain exceptions to certain laws if moral objections can be proven to be sincere (though how you’re able to “prove” something like that beats me). Consciencious objector status to serving in the military is the most obvious example. Exceptions to certain laws can be made for certain religious groups, such as the Amish. If this German woman was a Muslim or Christian, she could use her religious beliefs as a legitimate objection - in the U.S., certainly, and sue for discrimination; not sure about Germany.

Personally the best thing I think the German government should do would be to make an exception for any work in the sex industry, on moral/cultural/religious grounds.

Is male prostitution, hetero- and homosexual, legal in Germany?

[quote=“Rascal”]Not that I agree with the practice but is working for e.g. a sex hotline considered prostitution?

If not then the title and parts of the article are misleading. There might be no law against it but then there is no indication that women are actually asked to work as prostitutes, instead ‘jobs related to sexual services’ are being offered.[/quote]

Yes, I see your point, Rascal. But my impression of what the lawyer they interviewed was saying was basically that even BEFORE prostitution was legalized, the authorities could force you to take a job at a sex hotline (since sex hotlines were never illegal) and that AFTER prostitution was legalized, the new development is that prostitution can be considered a legal job too – and so you could lose your benefits by not taking such a job.

Who knows. I’m certainly no expert, and have only read that one article. But that’s what it sounded like to me. :idunno:

I need to see more pictures before I make up my mind.

If a woman isn’t qualified to do anything else in Germany and won’t be a prostitute, then leave to avoid being “unfairly” treated.

Are women in Germany still considered to be human beings with any rights or dignity whatsoever? This is nothing less than institutionalized rape. It’s unbelievable that it distinguishes between women and men. I am in shock.

I think that if you can reasonably claim religious or moral grounds for refusing a job it should not cost you your benefits. Imagine the stink if they asked a muslim to slaughter pigs, a hindu to go work in an abbatoir, or a Sikh in a cigarette factory…

Playing devil’s advocate, isn’t Germany a secular state? Why should they care if an adherent to a religion objects to certain kinds of work?

For those who read German: This article seems to be the source of everything. Curse of the internet: somebody reads an article about a hole in legislation, and the next day, all internet boards discuss the “fact” that the German government forces women into prostitution :loco:

Keep in mind that the source, taz, is about as anti-government, leftist and provocative as a German newspaper can get. All in all, the article is one big accumulation of “might” and “could be possible”…

There are a couple of issues mentioned in the article:

a) Since owners of brothels and other employers in the German sex trade pay social cost, they are entitled to advertise their jobs through employment agencies.

b) This means that employment agencies might for example send unemployed waitresses for interviews at places that turn out to be a little more shady than a regular cafe (and I think according to German regulation, unemployed people have to contact potential employers looking for employees through employment agencies).

c) Theoretically, there is the rule that if jobseekers turn down jobs that they would theoretically be qualified for, their benefits might be cut. However, there is no example where this actually has happened to women turning down jobs related to the sex trade. I haven’t found anything on German sites on the waitress mentioned in the article, nor does the article say what the waitress was trying to sue her employment agency for (giving her the phone number of a brothel as a potential employer?) or if her employment agency actually threatened her with cutting her benefits.

Haeh? I can see no distinction here. The fact that men aren’t mentioned doesn’t mean they’re excluded. And I’m not sure. But I’d think that the German law doesn’t make a difference between male and female prostitution.

Btw, Jive Turkey is right, of course. And the example of a muslim possibly be forced to slaughter pigs is actually one of the examples mentioned in the article (“if muslims can theoretically be forced to slaughter pigs, why not force women to answer job ads from brothels…”). I’m not sure whether or not it has happened.


I think it is a human rights issue, especially considering it involves the integrity of one’s body. Of course exceptions should be made for sex industry jobs. While decriminalizing the industry makes sense, it should not be normalized to the extent that one could lose unemployment benefits if one turns down an offer to deliver “sexual services.” Even a secular society needs to accept and consider the moral and religious rights and choices of its people.

Keep in mind that this refers to rules that came into effect on Jan., 1, 2005. And that obviously, nobody thought of this before. And that German laws regarding the social system get changed every couple of weeks/months at the moment anyway because nobody seems to be ready for a really effective change because it might hurt :s And that there are no precedences for any “human rights” violations in this aspect yet…

I can see why they would care, but I’m not sure if I can see where they would draw the line. People with certain religions would have their own reasons for objecting to certain kinds of work, but would the moral objections of, say, a strict (but non-religious) vegetarian be any less compelling, should she refuse to work at a slaughterhouse, or a butcher shop?

In all, this system sounds very difficult to manage. Does anyone know how many government workers are employed full time trying to use their own judgement (aided, presumably by some sort of regulatory guidelines) to decide whether Citizen 32049908, or Citizen 98343809 should be forced to accept job 20983429, or job 53098433?

Do other countries unemployment benefits work like this as well? My impression is that in the US the system is based more on a fixed period of time: if you are laid off and are looking for work, you get unemployment benefits for X months – then you’re on your own. But until that point, I believe that the individual has the right to reject a job offer if the individual objects to it on religious, moral (or any other) grounds. Does anyone know whether the US has this procedure where a government official can force you to accept a job offer or get your benefits cut off? Maybe it does.

In any event, each system would seem to have its advantages and disadvantages. A time-based system might well result in some harsh treatment for people who really are looking diligently but still haven’t found work after the time limit runs out. On the other hand, a system that involves government officers who get involved on a case-by-case basis to force people to take jobs seems like it involves some fairly serious problems as well. Can anyone tell us whether the German system has a time limit as well? For some reason I thought that it did have a time limit, but that the period was very long.

Hm, I am not sure you are being forced to take a job that you don’t want. Asked to, but not forced.

Of course it may have consequences to reject the offers, i.e. you may indeed loose your benefits. But AFAIK only after refusing 3 times this applies and I am not sure if situations where you have good reason to reject the offer will count in.
On the other hand anyone can find a “good reason” (at least from his/her point of view) though you should consider that they try to assign offers that are relevant to your qualification or experience, so a vegetarian that hasn’t worked as a butcher is unlikely to receive such an offer.
With the new regulations in place you may however be offered job that are, how should I say this?, “below” your qualification, e.g. an engineer might be asked to work as a technician or electrician.

I have a friend that is currently unemployed since a year and he did refuse a job offer because of low pay. They did also question his car ownership as the unemployment agency consideres it a ‘luxury car’ (even it compares price-wise to other cars that are not considered such) but he still does receive his unemployment benefits. Nor is he forced to prostitute himself. :wink:

There was a time limit for unemployment benefits, 2 years if I recall correctly. After that you become a social welfare case - unless you have personal wealth (cash, stocks, car, house etc.) that you have to use up first before receiving such.

Now that we have “Hartz IV” (probably a swear-word in Germany by now) things have changed effectively beginning of this year and I haven’t bothered to check the details yet, the general drift seems to be however that it has gotten tougher on most people.

Damn! Sounds like Berlin will soon be like Bangkok…only without the culture and class.

Berlin was always more fun than Bangkok.

I suppose the nightmare scenario is some maniac hanging around outside the benefits office offering women money for sex. “Come on, love, ten euros for a quicky in my car, or I’ll tell the folks inside that you refused a job.”

Heh! The ol’ entrepreneurial spirit. :laughing:

In case anyone else gets confused, this is nothing to do with Dole Pineapple Corporation or Viagra spokesperson Bob Dole.

Thanks for the information, Rascal. It was very helpful in filling in a number of the questions I had about the system.

Regarding this comment:

… I couldn’t agree with you more. Saying “forced” was lazy writing on my part.

Saying ‘asked’ doesn’t quite capture it either (since it leaves out the important point that refusing the request may may result in losing your benefits), but I do think it comes closer than ‘forced’. Maybe we could say people are being ‘pressured’? Maybe even that word sounds too coercive though, because when it comes down to it, people are just being given a choice: “(A) Do this and continue to get benefits, or (B) don’t do this and don’t continue to get benefits.”

The fact that the situation involves A telling B [color=blue]“I’ll give you money, if you agree to do/not to do X”[/color] was exactly why I was not able to support getting the lawyers involved in the case of the employee who was fired for smoking over in the other thread. The employer wasn’t “forcing” its employees to quit smoking. The employer was not claiming a “right” to tell its employees what they could/couldn’t do in the privacy of their own homes. The employer was offering the person a choice: ‘You can (A) work for me and not smoke, or you can (B) work for another company and continue smoking’.

So I fully agree with you that we shouldn’t say that the government is “forcing” anyone to do anything here. The government is giving unemployed people a choice.

Whether one approves of the policy that forces people to make such a choice (here force is the right word) is, of course, another question.