Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Women in Germany face the loss of unemployment benefits if they decline to accept work in brothels.
Example: [The Telegraph, 2005]
Origins: 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
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
The Tageszeitung merely presented the concept of brothel employment as a technical possibility under current law; it did not provide any actual cases of women losing their benefits over this issue. The article also quoted representatives from employment agencies as saying that while it might be possible for employment agencies to offer jobs as prostitutes to "long-term unemployed" women, they (the agencies) could not require anyone to work in a brothel. (The agencies noted that brothels used "other recruitment channels" anyway.)
As an example of how a hypothetical has been manipulated into a truth, consider the following paragraph from the Telegraph article cited above:
Ulrich Kueperkoch wanted to open a brothel in Goerlitz, in former East Germany, but his local job centre withdrew his advertisement for 12 prostitutes, saying it would be impossible to find them.Then note how this same issue was covered by the German news source Deutsche Welle:
Mr Kueperkoch said that he was confident of demand for a brothel in the area and planned to take a claim for compensation to the highest court.
A brothel owner in the historic German town of Gvrlitz on the Polish border is preparing to open his establishment next month but faces a one last serious problem — he has no staff. Ulrich Kueperkoch's adverts seeking "hostesses for erotic services" for hisThis was another case where, like a game of "telephone," a story was sensationalized for political purposes and passed from one news source to the next, and somewhere in the rewriting and translating process what was originally discussed as a mere hypothetical possibility has now been reported as a factual occurrence.
Last updated: 6 February 2005
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