I had written earlier about a story that appeared in the UK Telegraph regarding a woman whose unemployment benefits were going to be taken away unless she accepted a job in Germany’s sex industry. I have noted that there’s a report now that it’s an urban legend:
- A news story about a 25-year-old German woman who faced cuts to her unemployment benefits for turning down a job providing “sexual services” at a brothel was carried by a variety of English-language news sources in January 2005. It has struck a chord in many readers as an example of liberal morality and bureaucracy run amok: if prostitution is legalized (as it was in Germany back in 2002), this story suggests, then society has conferred its approval upon that trade, and prostitution can therefore be proffered to (and even foisted upon) women as a valid choice of employment.
We were initially skeptical about the literal truth of the version reported in the English press, however, because the issue seemed to have received scant attention in the German press. In fact, the origin of this story was evidently a 18 December 2004 article published in the Berlin newspaper Tageszeitung (also known as TAZ) which did not report that women in Germany must accept employment in brothels or face cuts in their unemployment benefits. (Although it claimed there had been “isolated cases” of such, it did not provide any source or documentation to back up that statement.)
The report goes on to say that TAZ had presented the scenario as a “what-if” situation; a possibility, nothing more. The Urban Legends site makes the same error it claims the Telegraph has, however, in not providing the details of who they spoke with in determining this was a hoax. I certainly hope it’s a hoax, but I also realize that the law, as written, allows this kind of thing to occur.
In any case, since I wrote about the Telegraph article, I felt it was important that I also highlight this one and let you readers make your own decisions about which report you weigh more heavily.