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An Interview With Former Prostitute Metje Blaak

Interview with ex-prostitute Metje Blaak

The situation of the sex industry in the Netherlands

Since when do more prostitutes want to work independently?

Women always wanted to work autonomously, but there is an ongoing witch hunt for prostitutes. Whether you had to be aware of pimps, or the local or tax authorities were close on your heels. Something that is bothering the girls terribly at the moment is “handhaving”. They come into the rooms of the prostitutes. When the sexworkers are standing in their lingerie, they feel really vulnerable.

So yes, many women want to remain completely in control and rent their own flat or work with a couple of women together, form a kind of partnership together without any one interfering. Of course, they pay their taxes, but it is wrong that everyone can walk in. The tax authorities can walk in and say: “Can I see what’s inside your wallet?”. That’s too absurd for words.

Has the control on sex workers increased since the 1980’s/ 1990’s?

Prostitution wasn’t an official job back then, it was tolerated though. The sex workers did not have as much trouble as they have now. They didn’t pay taxes, because it was not an official job. Sometimes, as I did when I worked as a prostitute back then, I whitewashed my money by starting different little companies. Being a prostitute was a “side-job”. There was always a solution for the money that came in.

An Interesting Interview with a Former Dutch Prostitute

The stigma of prostitution

Are the problems in the Dutch prostitution sector also caused by stigma?

Stigma is what is worst. Women who want to quit prostitution, who want to do something else, find it hard to do so.
I have seen that children had to leave the daycare-center because their mother was a prostitute. I have mediated to let these children back in, but the relationship was damaged too much and the women would seek out another daycare-center. And then I haven’t even talked about the bullying on the internet, where men can offend these women deeply, because it’s all anonymous.

Amsterdam's Red Light District History. April 3th 1984
A man looks at a woman in window brothel in Amsterdam’s Red Light District – 3 April 1984.

Has the stigma of prostitution reduced since the 80’s?

No, I think it is becoming worse. In the past, being a prostitute wasn’t very accepted either, but now with the internet anyone can say anything. Now, you get to know what people really think and do. Someone in his attic can just bully as much as he or she likes.

Although the stigma on prostitutes is getting bigger, is the customer getting better accepted?

Yes, customers are more open about prostitution than before.
I know that men amongst each other can talk about it, but only if there is a certain form of trust. Being a whore hopper is still taboo.

Interview with a former female prostitute in The Netherlands.

Registration obligations of prostitutes in the Netherlands

Which rights are missing since the legalization of prostitution?

The government want to introduce registration, to list women as being a prostitute. I think that women should have the right to refuse registration, because of the social stigma. A couple of months ago, there was a disturbance here in Amsterdam about the mayor Van der Laan, who stated that every prostitute should register herself to the Chamber of Commerce as a prostitute. Otherwise, the prostitutes weren’t allow to work anymore. I was told that this was something that the Chamber of Commerce wanted. So I decided to call the Chamber of Commerce. They told me that they did not know anything about that.

Amsterdam’s Mayor Van der Laan wanted to have this, because he wanted it to be mapped. Some prostitutes already registered, because they were afraid to lose their jobs. Unfortunately, have the prostitutes been chased by their customers. Everyone could just type “prostitute” in the register of the Chamber of Commerce and all names and addresses would appear.
I think that sex workers should have the right to say: “No, I don’t want that”… A regular customer does not say where he has been all the time. That part of prostitution should remain a bit mystical. For men as well as for women.

Amsterdam Red Light District Window Brothel Prostitutes

What are the consequences of registration of prostitutes?

When the government is coming through with this obligation to register, all “free” sex workers will go underground. And the forced women will be registered.
I know many students who work in prostitution, but they do not want to be registered. What if they want to become a lawyer? They don’t know where they will be registered. And on the internet you can find pretty much everything. So that registration will haunt them down for the rest of their life. It just simply doest not work.

Did the working conditions for the prostitutes get worse?

Yes, it went downhill. In the beginning we all thought: “Hurray, prostitution is an official occupation and that should mean that we have rights. But we didn’t get more rights, we only received duties. Politicians might have had good intentions, but after a while other interests started to emerge.

What obligations do sex workers have?

Prostitutes who work autonomously, those who have been working in this business for years and know how much money they’ll be having (because of their regular customers) find it hard to get mortgage. The women are being refused by banks.
There are similar problems in healthcare. When a prostitute would like to insure herself, the insurance premium for that is incredibly high. The insurance companies think that these prostitutes have all the deceases of the world.

Do you think that the Dutch policymakers need to adapt other policies concerning prostitution?

The government should actually be educated on prostitution.
They should follow a course on how prostitution is working exactly. Furthermore, they should be more in contact with ex-prostitutes, brothel owners and perhaps pimps as well.

Drug use among prostitutes

What is the role of drugs in the sex industry?

There are three  groups of sex workers. The first one consists out of prostitutes who have mental problems and are addicted, the second group are girls who are forced into this business and the third group consists of prostitutes who have chosen to work as an independent prostitute. A prostitute who works for herself sees it as an ordinary job, supports her family and build a life with.

How big is the group of women that work only because of their addiction to drugs?

I don’t know how.

Can you also find addicted prostitutes behind the windows in Amsterdam’s Red Light District?

I do not think that there are addicted prostitutes behind the windows, because most window owners would not allow that.

 

In September 2015, we interviewed another Dutch sex worker – Caja van Tolie. She works as a prostitute for 16 years now. We really wanted to know more about her profession and experiences. This is what we asked her: Interview with Dutch Prostitute in Amsterdam



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