80% of brothels disappeared after sex work law loosened in 2000
Only about 250 of 1,350 registered bordellos have remained active in the Netherlands since prostitution was legalized in 2000. The sex work businesses have found it increasingly difficult to obtain and maintain a permit in recent years, according to a report by Pointer.
When the ban was lifted it gave cities the responsibility to enact their own regulations on sex work. Municipal leadership has become more aware of human trafficking and sexual exploitation through the years, said Rodney Haan, a criminologist working for a foundation which advises local governments on sex work policy.
One effort the cities have undertaken to tackle the problem is limiting its approval of permits for sex work facilities. "The number of permits has decreased considerably and sometimes it is no longer possible to start a sex business at all," Haan said. When they do grant a permit, it is for a maximum of five years with no guarantee of renewal.
As a result, about 80 percent of the registered companies have given up and left the business, said André van Dorst of industry association VER. "It is too great a financial risk for many entrepreneurs," he stated. An entrepreneur is unlikely to start a business if their “investments and goodwill evaporate within a few years.
Another sign that the situation has become stricter is the state of window prostitution in specific districts in Dutch cities. There were 12 municipalities that allowed window prostitution in 2000, which has fallen to ten this year.