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.
The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.
She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling 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 an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.
The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.
Part of me keeps thinking this can't be real, but it certainly seems to be. Maybe it is all part of a plot to reduce the unemployment levels by getting women out of the job market and back to the three K's (Kirche, Kueche, Kinder). Or is it meant to encourage the Islamists currently in Germany to leave immediately? Or both? I mean, no one can propose something this preposterous without some colossally stupid reasons driving them.
How did Germany's society find itself suddenly in the ditch instead of cruising comfortably down the Autobahn?
Miss Garweg believes that pressure on job centres to meet employment targets will soon result in them using their powers to cut the benefits of women who refuse jobs providing sexual services.
"They are already prepared to push women into jobs related to sexual services, but which don't count as prostitution,'' she said.
"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral, 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."