This story is based on an article from The London Daily Telegraph which reported that following the legalisation of prostitution and brothels in Germany, women from the Job Centre were being sent to fill vacancies at these establishments, and that should they refuse they could lose their benefits. Subsequent to the report a brothel owner did take legal action but a judge threw the case out. However, like the good old British red top tabloids why let a few inconvenient facts stand in the way of a good story? The action takes place in a city in Germany. So if you're sitting comfortably...
It was a perfectly ordinary street, but at the same time extraordinary, and what had to be number 37, had to be because although it didn't have a number on the door, the doors either side were 35 and 39, was perfectly ordinary except ... Like many city streets it wasn't particularly wide, it had three and four storey buildings on either side, joined to form long terraces. At one time all the properties had been residential, but now some were offices, some had been converted to apartments and one, she noted with a shudder, was a dentist surgery another a doctors. And there was the one with the knocker. Number 37.
Brita had walked up and down the street, on the other side of course, perhaps a half dozen times. But who was counting? She was, by turns, experiencing the chill and butterflies of nervousness, and the white heat of fury at being forced into this situation, and by turns her fury focused on someone to blame. Her mother whose illness forced her to become the family's bread winner? The stupid politicians, all men of course, who had caused the problem with their incompetent framing of laws, or should that be the civil servants, parasites, one and all? Or men with their filthy lusts. That's what grandmother always said. But Brita wasn't too sure of that, all her dealings with men, and there had not been many, had been, well, pleasurable. Then there was the dried up old bag at the Job Centre; no one would want her anyway. Certainly no one could blame her! She looked at the door again. The chill and the butterflies returned. There was nothing particularly remarkable about it, the door was stained dark brown with a purple tint, she supposed to resemble mahogany, and set in a wooden frame in the stone façade of the building, but screwed to one of the panels was the final insult to be added to the injury of having to be here at all. It was the figure of a naked man, grinning straight at her, well aware of the enormous pair of testicles between his spread legs. Testicles that were hinged to be used as a knocker. Men!
She thought back to yesterday. Yesterday she had just been out of work like so many others, as she had been for several months, in fact she had never had a job since leaving university, and like so many others she had gone to the Job Centre. Nothing difficult or unusual there, but on this occasion she had been called in for an interview.
She had sat down opposite the interviewer, a mousy woman in her mid fifties.
"Miss Becker, you've been out of work for three months now," the woman stated.
"Yes, I have tried, really I have. I can't find anything that I'm qualified for and if I go for a job as a waitress or something like that they say that with a university degree I'm overqualified. It isn't that I'm not willing to work, but I have to look after my mother too..." The words tumbled out.
"Well, we have a job vacancy that you can apply for."
She handed over a card with a name and address on it together with a job specification.
"Sex worker? This must be a sick joke. I'm not a whore and I'm not going to be a one."
"I'm afraid the law says that if you don't take this job you'll lose you benefit."
"That's blackmail. I won't do it."
"As I said, it's the law. Prostitution and brothels were made legal last year so that there can be greater control over them, particularly over the trafficking of women. The brothel owners as legitimate employers have threatened to take us to court if we don't send someone in answer to their requests for staff. It is, as I said, a legitimate employment opportunity."
"But why me?"
"You have the necessary qualifications."
The interviewer looked at her. As far as she was concerned being female and having a pulse were the only qualifications she could think of for such a job. She shuddered; she didn't like this one little bit, but she was under just as much compulsion as this poor girl.
"The last woman we sent didn't suit them, too old they said, and they've threatened us with legal action if we don't send someone who is suitable for the position. I don't like it, but that's the situation. Take the job, or lose your benefit. The interview is tomorrow morning, I shall call them and tell them you are coming."
Brita left the Job Centre in a haze, almost walking in front of a car. As she jumped back she wondered whether that wouldn't be a better option. She pulled herself together and walked home to the flat where she lived with her wheelchair bound mother.
She fussed around getting the evening meal.
"Did you visit the Job Centre today, dear?"
"Did they have anything for you?"
"You could say that."
"Well did they or didn't they? What did they have?" Her mother, always short of patience, was beginning to sound exasperated.
"They call it a sex worker, but a rose by any other name."
"Oh. Are you going? It doesn't seem the sort of thing you wanted."
"It isn't what I wanted; I don't want to do this, but I'm told that if I don't then I'll lose benefit. And that'll be the end of us."
"Well, you have to provide for us, and I understand it pays well. And you're not a virgin are you?"
Her mother's reference to finding her in bed with a boyfriend whilst she was still at school was the final straw and Brita burst into tears and rushed off to her bedroom.
This morning she had dressed in unflattering clothes and hadn't bothered with her hair. She thought this might put the potential employer off, little realising that it was what was under the clothes that would be of interest to them.
She finally resolved to cross the street and use that disgusting knocker. She realised that she really had no choice in the matter and she put out her hand to take hold of the offensive object. Her hand had not quite made contact when the door opened. Brita's heart sank, there standing before her was a large grey haired woman in a long black dress, who closely resembled her late grandmother, a redoubtable woman whose word had been law. When grandmother, and it was never shortened, said jump, and it might have been phrased as a request, but it always sounded like an order, you jumped. The only possible question would have been how high, but that was never necessary because grandmother would have specified the distance to the centimetre and woe betide if your jump wasn't precisely as she wanted. Brita knew instinctively that she couldn't say no to this woman, and her heart sank further.
"Come in," said the dragon, standing to one side.
The woman closed the door with a solid thump, and Brita heard the thud of the knocker as it obeyed the third law of motion and fell back like part of a comical set of Newton's Balls. She was standing in a sumptuously decorated foyer, discrete lighting revealing dark wood panelling and ornate ceilings with thick, dark patterned carpet on the floor. Leading upwards was a carpeted staircase with an iron balustrade capped with a mahogany handrail.
"You've wasted fifteen minutes walking up and down the street six times, do think we've nothing to do but wait on you girl?" The woman asked over her shoulder as she strode up the stairs with Brita almost running behind her.
Brita decided it was a rhetorical question and remained silent.
They entered a heavily furnished office.
The woman went around a large desk and sat, indicating that Brita should sit on the rather uncomfortable chair in front of the desk.
"I am Frau Voss, I own this establishment. You will call me Madam. You are Brita Becker, yes?"
Frau Voss check age and date of birth, address and whether she had any medical conditions and that she was taking contraceptive pills.
"I knew a Katherine Becker, years ago..." she had a faraway look for a moment."
"My Grandmother was Katherine," said Brita, momentarily struck by the thought that it was odd that all three generations of women in her family had the same surname.
"No matter, it wouldn't have been the same woman I'm sure. Now, you'll have a thorough medical, and..." and she went on to tell Brita that she would be paid the minimum wage but that she would receive a bonus for every client, what the conditions were, hours of working, one week daytime and one week evenings, and so on. At no time could Brita get a word in edgeways to say that she didn't want to work there, that she wasn't going to be a prostitute, and that the whole thing revolted her. Especially that knocker, which seemed so at odds with the refined taste of the interior. The main problem was that she was so in awe of the woman that she was largely tongue tied and was just being swept along, almost as though she was in a fast flowing river and it was all she could do to keep her head above water. She almost felt breathless.
"We'll need a professional name for you. What do you fancy?"
.... There is more of this story ...