netherlands: Minister of Social Affairs, De Geus, argues not to exclude prostitution as suitable employment

Former nurse offered job as prostitute by Labour Service

Exploitation under capitalism in nothing new, but government officials telling unemployed people that they have to accept work in the sex-industry as a prostitute is still a rare phenomenon. Yet, a little more than a week ago, on March 22 to be precise, the Dutch minister of Social Affairs and Employment said that the bureau whose task it is to make decisions about the granting of unemployment benefits, the UWV, has the duty to not exclude work in the prostitution as suitable work for people who in the past have worked as a prostitute and who seem to have no objections to working in that sector again.

In Groningen, a city in the north of the Netherlands, a former nurse was offered a job as a prostitute by the labour service, a bureau that is responsible for the reintegration of the unemployed on the labour market. The minister commented on this case saying that unemployed people who haven’t worked in prostitution before shouldn’t be offered this kind of work and that employment agency should not actively promote prostitution as employment.

That the minister puts limits on which unemployed people might be offered work in the sex-industry is does not change anything about the fact that the Dutch government, in which name he speaks, is telling unemployed people to sell their body for money: it’s nothing less than modern slavery. Women who work in this sector, or who have been forced to work in this sector are being told that they should expect to keep on selling their bodies; they are being looked upon as products you can buy on a market: this is devastating for the emancipation of the female part of the working class.

This measure does not come alone: the Dutch government is making it more difficult for people to get unemployment benefits; it does not give out short-time unemployment benefits any more, and is limiting the provision of benefits for the partially disabled. By replacing the pension plan based on collective payments with a system of individual accounts the government has made it all but impossible for people to retire before they reach 65.

All these measures are pro-bosses and pro-big business; they ensure that enormous profits can be made by creating a low wage sector of the economy and slashing peoples’ social security. In a capitalist society profit comes before people. The government and big business are not concerned in defending the interests of the working class. Instead they make every effort imaginable to protect the interests of the ruling capitalist class.

Offensief, the Dutch section of the Committee for a Workers’ International, fights for a world socialist alternative for society which will get rid of unemployment, guarantee decent wages, and expand social security. It is important therefore that the working class gets organizes worldwide and that we struggle together against the imperialist and capitalist powers that take control of our destiny.


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April 2005