A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year. Prostitution was legalised 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. ... 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 an available job - including in the sex industry - or lose her unemployment benefit.This looks to me to be a really sticky issue. There's no denying that forcing someone to work in the sex industry against her will is morally reprehensible. But I think it'd be morally reprehensible in just the same way to force someone to work in some other industry against which she had moral objections: it'd be wrong to force me to work in the factory farming industry, or the United States military. I'm not sure what a truly fair policy would look like. One option, which I don't find very attractive at first glance, is to just emphasize that this isn't an issue of force; no one is making anyone work these jobs, they're just offering money to those who would be willing to take them. That's a response, but like I say, I don't particularly like it, because it's still a government pressuring people to do things they oughtn't to be pressured to do. Maybe a better system would be somewhat parallel to the idea behind conscientious objector status to the U.S. draft? If people can prove that they have a moral objection to a certain job, then they're allowed to refuse it without losing unemployment benefits? It sounds like a giant mess to administrate, but maybe that's the best option? I'm curious what others think. EDIT: Snopes calls this story false!
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Forced Prostitution in Germany?
My friend Elise called my attention to this story from the British Telegraph: