Amsterdam plans to move prostitution out of Red Light District; sex workers upset

Red Light District (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/LeDeuxAlpe)Red Light District (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/LeDeuxAlpe)

Amsterdam coalition parties GroenLinks, D66 and SP want to move prostitution out of the Red Light District by issuing new prostitution permits for areas outside the city center. They hope that this will relieve some pressure on the busy city center, and make sex workers' lives easier and safer. But not all sex workers are pleased with his idea. 

The growing stream of tourists in the Red Light District cause problems for residents and prostitutes working in window brothels in the area, the parties said, Het Parool reports. Tourists gape at the women behind the windows, but do not go inside, which puts their income under pressure. Many actual customers also don't dare to pass the crowd of tourists to enter the window brothel.

This could change by issuing new permits for prostitution outside the historic city center, according to the coalition parties. They hope that this will urge sex workers to move to a new safe place where they can work legally without the tourist nuisance. "Think of a kind of hotel with rooms, equipped with an alarm button, a safe for the money and cameras outside", GroenLinks city councilor Femke Roosma said to the newspaper. "Through the permit policy, we can make this alternative location as safe and attractive as possible, according to the wishes of the sex workers."

"There they can work in anonymity, freed from tourists who constantly take pictures. The Red Light District is simply no longer the ideal place", Alexander Hammelburg of the D66 said. The parties stress that no sex workers will be forced to leave the Red Light District. "We only offer alternatives", the D66 said.

But not all sex workers in the city are pleased with these plans. "I'm angry right into my soul", window brothel operator Jan Broers said to AT5. He feels like he's being bullied out of the neighborhood. "You can not just take away an entire business? We pay taxes. These are our properties. We were born here. I've been here for 50 years."

"Of course it is crooked that we are being punished for mass tourism in the city, because we are not the cause of it", Velvet December, member of interest group PROUD, said to the Amsterdam broadcaster. According to her, the city should focus on doing something about mass tourism instead. "They come with tour guides and stand in front of a window. You can imagine that customers do not dare to go inside anymore."

Local resident Bert Nap doesn't find the plan particularly constructive. "That you open a prostitution building somewhere else and then hope that everything disappears here at the Red Light District, I find that naive", he said to AT5. 

Mayor Femke Halsema said that she will present a new prostitution policy early next year. Exactly what this policy will contain, is not clear.