Is it curtains closed for Amsterdam's red light district?
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Amsterdam's mayor on Wednesday, July 3 proposed drawing curtains over the notorious glass-fronted booths where sex workers ply their trade, as part of an overhaul of the city's famed red-light district.
Femke Halsema, the Dutch capital's first female mayor, presented 4 options for improving conditions for women who work in prostitution, cutting crime and reducing the burden of mass tourism in the area.
The red-lit canalside windows and sex shops of the Wallen district near the main train station are one of the biggest draws for the 18 million tourists who flock to the Netherlands' biggest city every year.
"For many visitors, the sex workers have become no more than an attraction to look at. In some cases this is accompanied by disruptive behaviour and a disrespectful attitude to the sex workers in the windows," her office said in a statement.
"At the same time, there has also been a major increase in unlicensed, underground prostitution."
Under the mayor's first option "the curtains of the window brothels close" so that "sex workers and their workplaces are no longer visible from the street", the statement said.
Other suggestions include moving some of the window booths out of allen to other areas of the city, or closing down all of the booths in the area and setting up a new red light district elsewhere.
However, the city could also increase the number of window brothels in the red light district from the current level of 330, while a "the establishment of a sex work hotel is also a possibility".
The mayor will meet sex workers, residents and local businesses in July, and Amsterdam city council will discuss her proposals in September.
Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000 and sexworkers can register with the local chamber of commerce and pay income tax.
Around 7,000 people work in the paid-sex sector in Amsterdam, with around 75% of them coming from low-income countries, particularly eastern Europe, according to official figures. – Rappler.com