Netherlands to raise sex worker minimum age to 21, require permits: report

Sex worker in Amsterdam's Red Light District
Sex worker in Amsterdam's Red Light DistrictPhoto: Alisa24/DepositPhotos

The government is taking extra measures to fight abuses in the sex industry. Sex workers will soon be required to have a permit to do their job, and the minimum age for sex work will be raised from 18 to 21. It will also soon be punishable to be the pimp of a sex worker who doesn't have a permit, according to a legislative proposal the government will soon present, AD reports based on sources.

With this bill, the government wants to bring "uniformity" to the rules around sex work in the Netherlands. Currently, different rules apply for each type of sex work. And the minimum age varies per municipality, with some maintaining a minimum age of 18 and other 21. The legislative proposal will introduce one type of permit for all sex work, and a uniform minimum age of 21. 

The penal code will also be adjusted so that pimps who exploit sex workers can be tackled more effectively. The articles that criminalize human trafficking and exploitation in prostitution will be expanded to include the persons "involved" with sex workers who get "financial benefit". It will make it illegal to act as the pimp of a sex worker that doesn't have a permit, according to the newspaper.

These measures are already controversial. People within the sex industry have warned that they will lead to sex workers going underground and working illegally, according to AD. But the government believes the new bill can help further tackle "exploitation and human trafficking" and create "a safe and healthy working environment".