Plans to move prostitution out of Amsterdam Red Light District
The city centre in Amsterdam is extremely busy, one of the most popular tourist attractions being the Red Light District. However, “is this really what you want to attract people to the city with?” questions SP council member Nicole Temmink.
Amsterdam city council parties GroenLinks, D66 and SP have come up with several proposals for dealing with the Red Light District (RLD), one of them being moving prostitution to other areas of the city to relieve the RLD.
Tourist nuisance in the Red Light District
The RLD has been a place of prostitution for years. However, the increase in tourist numbers is the cause of a lot of nuisances for residents and prostitutes in the area. Tourists stare at the women and take photos but do not enter, putting pressure on the workers’ incomes.
Many actual clients opt for prostitutes they find online and meet either at home or in a hotel. This prostitution is often illegal and unsafe due to the lack of oversight. As clients find prostitutes online, many RLD windows are now empty during the day, leading to the debate of whether prostitution under these circumstances is still appropriate.
To lessen the problems caused by tourists, the city council parties now propose giving out licenses for prostitution outside of the historical city centre. The parties hope that this measure will then encourage prostitutes to move to a safe place where they can work legally without bother from tourists.
New places for prostitution in Amsterdam
According to D66 council member Alexander Hammelburg, an alternative location means that prostitutes can “work in anonymity, free from tourists constantly taking photos”. These new areas should also be accessible for prostitutes whose services are listed online. Currently, sex workers in the RLD may only receive passers-by.
Prostitutes should be able to decide for themselves where they want to go, according to GroenLinks council member Femke Roosma, who states “via the licensing policy, we can make the make the alternative location as safe and attractive as possible, in accordance with the wishes of the sex workers”. She also says that such a place could, for example, be “a hotel with rooms fitted with an alarm button, a safe for the money and surveillance cameras outside”.
Whilst the parties propose the option of alternative locations, none support the compulsory closure of the brothels in the RLD. Next year, mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema will present a new prostitution policy, which will incorporate the proposals made by the coalition parties.
Not everyone is happy with the plans
Not everyone is happy with the plans to issue licenses for prostitution outside the city centre. In particular, Jan Broers, a brothel operator in the RLD feels like he is being bullied out of the area. Member of the Dutch Union for Sex workers (PROUD), Velvet December is also opposed to the plans stating, “it is twisted that we are being punished for the mass tourism in the city, as we are not the cause of it.” According to her, the city should address the mass tourism instead.
A resident in the area, Bert Nap, feels that the plan is not constructive; calling it naïve for the council to hope that by opening up a brothel elsewhere, prostitution would disappear from the RLD.