15 April 2005

Dutch Secretary Labels Prostitution ‘Fitting Employment’

Dutch parliamentarians are struggling with some unforeseen consequences of the legalization of prostitution in their country. The lower chamber debated on Wednesday, April 13 with Labor Secretary Mr. De Geus about his assessment that prostitution cannot be dismissed as unfitting employment in all circumstances.

Under the Dutch welfare system, the unemployed can only continue receiving benefits if they are registered with a government employment agency and actively participate in finding a job. The government also has guidelines to link vacancies to jobseekers’ qualifications. Under those guidelines, refusing a job considered a fitting match to one’s qualifications results in a benefit cut.

However, with the legalization of prostitution, the government employment agencies were forced to start registering vacancies in this branch. In a letter to parliament last month, Mr. De Geus reported his department’s assessment that there is no basis under current Dutch law to exempt prostitution from the government guidelines regarding fitting employment. While he remarked that the agencies are not actively recruiting jobless women for these vacancies, and are in fact encouraged to leave them “dormant” in their databases, the enforcement branch of the Department of Welfare and Labor is compelled to consider the question whether a job as prostitute may be fitting employment for certain people. The secretary suggested that “women who were formerly employed as prostitutes” might well fall into that category.

Even the Dutch parliament is unhappy with this situation but is faced with the consequences of its own actions. Many secular representatives are scrambling to find a compromise but legally there can be no exemption for prostitution as long as it is legal.

Meanwhile, Christian representatives are warning of worse situations in the future. Rep. Tineke Huizinga and Ms. Yvette Lont, both members of the Christian party ChristenUnie, write in the Nederlands Dagblad that the legislation creates a trap for women who are currently trying to get out of prostitution. Registering with the government employment agency would only cause the agency to make the observation that they are qualified for their vacancies in prostitution. While no-one has as yet had their benefits cut under the Dutch rules, Rep. Huizinga and Ms. Lont note that authorities in Germany, where similar legislation was enacted, have done so with a 25 year-old schooled IT worker who refused to accept a job as prostitute. The fact that Mr. De Geus is ignorant of the true state of affairs in the world of prostitution is commendable in him as a private person, Huizinga and Lont write, but as Secretary he should know better.

While it is important not to engage in superficial assessments of the climate in liberal Holland, there is no denying that ignorance and a sharp decline in Christian values have made the country into a showcase for what happens when utilitarian pragmatism becomes the basis for morality. Perhaps the most difficult for conscientious Christians in the Netherlands is the fact that their battle for traditional values is somewhat invisible in the absence of active persecution of Christians and in a place where Satan does not fight openly under the banner of outright evil but deludes good but ignorant citizens in the disguise of New Morality. Let us remember to pray for those who are fighting and for those who are being deluded.

Sources: (for those who read Dutch)

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