Red Light District's Future Still Uncertain
The debate on the future of Amsterdam’s Red Light District was once again met with opposing ideas and interests by residents and sex workers during the last meeting held on Friday at the Compagnietheater.
The city of Amsterdam, under the guidance of Mayor Femke Halsema, organized two meetings in the past week to discuss the future of window prostitution in the Red Light District. Halsema announced her move to overhaul the popular neighborhood two weeks ago.
With one of four proposals, the mayor wants to curb human trafficking, protect sex workers from disrespectful tourists, and help decrease the overcrowding of tourists in the area. Sex workers, local residents, and entrepreneurs were invited to discuss these proposals and render their input.
The proposals include: relocating the Red Light District windows to another neighborhood, reducing the number of brothels in the city-center by moving some to another neighborhood, closing the curtains of the current windows entirely, or adding more licensed windows.
Friday’s meeting saw more sex workers than any other group at the meeting as they made up 25% of the attendees.
Sex workers and entrepreneurs such as Elard Tissot van Patot, who operates the Amsterdam Red Light District Tour, are leaning towards the last proposal where the city opens more window brothels.
“If they open more windows, that will help with the overcrowding because then everybody would not be in just one area,” Tissot van Patot said to the NL Times. “These [proposed] changes is making it more difficult to do business. It concerns me, but I will do my best to continue to show people around in a proper way.”
Tissot van Patot says that people like him and other tour operators in the district are like ambassadors for the city and without them, the district will have a bigger challenge because there will be more unguided tourists who are not familiar with the etiquette and proper behavior, particularly when dealing with the window workers.
One of the primary conversation Tissot van Patot’s tour has with visitors is the inappropriateness of taking pictures of the window workers – an issue the mayor is trying to reduce with one of her proposals.
Tissot van Patot believes that the government’s implementation of Project 1012 ten years ago is a primary factor in the issues of overcrowding today. Project 1012 changed the district from being a primarily erotic and cannabis entertainment destination to general entertainment for everyone. Many windows and coffee shops were closed, sprouting the current issue of overcrowding, according to Tissot van Patot, who has been working in the industry for the past few years.
At Friday’s meeting, attendees were asked to write their thoughts on large sheets of paper about various issues in relation to the district, such as how to improve the area or what can be done to decrease criminal activities in the sex industry.
Taking guidance from the public’s input, the mayor will select one or two of the four proposals, “including details of the financial and legal aspects,” to present at the City Council debate at the end of this year.
According to the news provided by the City of Amsterdam website, more public meetings will be organized before a decision is made on the final selected proposal.