Legal age for prostitution raised in Amsterdam
The minimum legal age for a prostitute in Amsterdam has been raised from 18 to 21, while the closing times for brothels and windows in the city have also been tightened.
Amsterdam has become the first municipality in the Netherlands to introduce these laws in an attempt to tackle abuse in the industry and also to strengthen the position of the sex workers themselves.
Estimates put the number of prostitutes working in Amsterdam at between 5.000 and 8.000, but the number of these workers affected by human trafficking and exploitation is uncertain. Estimates range between as low as 8 percent and as high as 90 percent.
It is hoped that the raising of the legal age will help stem these abuses based on evidence that younger sex workers are more susceptible to coercion. It is also thought that a certain amount of maturity is required for participation in the industry.
The restriction of opening hours was proposed in order to provide prostitutes with increased security. Brothels and windows will have to close by 4am during the week and 5am at weekends and allowed to re-open at 9am. The lack of sufficient social supervision present in the city during these times has triggered these regulations.
The municipality has also impressed upon prostitution operators the need to take more responsibility for their workers.
All potential workers will have to be screened in order to ascertain a certain level of independence and language proficiency, so that all future prostitutes will both understand their rights and obligations and also be able to communicate with the local authorities.
These new measures are just one among many initiatives by authorities in their attempt to grasp further control over the sex industry. Recently the PvdA was considering making it a criminal offence to visit a prostitute, in line with the Swedish model, and Project 1012 is still gradually making itself felt amid Amsterdam's notorious Red Light District.