German unemployment stands at an almost two-decade low of 6.8 percent. Germany's government-run job centers frequently help place the unemployed in new positions where their skills match up but sometimes, things can go awry: like when a 19-year old girl from southern Germany got this offer from one job center:
According to a report in the local Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, the woman received a letter from the job center on Saturday suggesting she apply for a service staff position at an establishment called the Colosseum. The precondition for working there is an "appropriate appearance," the letter said, and she would serve drinks for 42 hours each week, primarily at night and on weekends.
There's just one problem: A web search for the Colosseum revealed the company's true nature. It's a brothel, a "nudist club" where one can "sex & relax (sic) on over 2,500 square meters" and encounter "girls with mega service and more." The brothel also offers a whirlpool bath and a bar -- just in case customers get thirsty.
While it sounds like a gag, the incident highlights a serious issue in German policy. Prostitution has been legal in Germany since 2002 and according to Der Spiegel, job agencies could broker jobs in prostitution to German citizens. What's more, unemployment reforms designed to push Germans into work can strip away benefits from those who decline job offers from government job centers. In 2004, these job centers voluntarily declared that women who preferred not to prostitute themselves would not have their benefits cut. Nevertheless. as Der Spiegel notes, there have been "repeated incidents" where women have "felt pressured" to take up work in the world's oldest profession.