Posted on: July 3, 2019
Sex workers want to stay in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, says interest group Red Light United run by sex workers. Sex workers see nothing in moving window brothels from the Red Light District to other parts of Amsterdam. They want to stay where they are.
This is the conclusion of a study done by Red Light United, a new interest group formed by window prostitutes in the Red Light District. Amsterdam’s Red Light District has 292 window brothels and approximately 375 sex workers. Red Light United surveyed 170 of them and concluded that at least 90% of the 170 sex workers want to work in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. As far as they are concerned, there should be more window brothels in the Red Light District, instead of less. Red Light United publishes these results in response to the four scenarios that Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema presented today to improve the “unacceptable” situation in the Red Light District.
Proud, another Dutch sex work organisation, is very skeptical about the mayor’s debate about the future of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. “No way in hell!”, thought Foxxy, who’s a sex worker herself, when she read the mayor’s plans. “Sex workers are people and they are entitled to a workplace! Relocating those workplaces is not an option because then the customers will not know where to find the sex workers. Will Halsema also organise bus-trips for them to the western port section in Amsterdam?”
According to Foxxy, sex workers who stand behind the windows in Amsterdam’s Red Light District have consciously opted for this form of sex work. “We believe that it should remain as it is, on top of that the municipality should make it completely legal for sex workers to work more easily from home.” Entrepreneurs and brothel-operators in the Red Light District also opt for more window brothels instead of less.
“I’m not so much in favour of extra windows brothels, but about the spreading out of visitors that results from this,” says Masten Stavast of Agapi, a company that rents out a few dozen window brothels in the Red Light District. “Currently, it’s all happening in an area that’s too small.”
Cor van Dijk, chairman of the Red Light District entrepreneurs association called ‘Ondernemersvereniging Oudezijds Achterburgwal‘, agrees. “Many window brothels have been removed because of a gentrification program called Project 1012; the previous Red Light District-approach of the local government to change the neighborhood. Those were precisely the window brothels in the alleys, where customers still had a certain anonymity,” he says. “If more windows brothels are added, that will spread the number of people over the entire area and decreases pressure points in certain alleys. We do not think there have been more tourists in the Red Light District during the recent years, but the City of Amsterdam just compressed the same number of people into a smaller area.”
The sex workers indicate in research done by Red Light United that they earn less. According to them, that’s not because of mass tourism, but because of the type of public walking around the Red Light District: backpackers and families with children. Brothel-operator Stavast is not interested in closed curtains in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, with which the sex workers disappear from the sight of tourists. “That is not the intention. On the contrary, the ladies earn from tourists who pass by.
According to the chairman of the entrepreneurs association, relocating window brothels to other parts of Amsterdam is not a good option. “The Red Light District and sex work belong to each other.” According to him, the concentration of sex work in the Red Light District has one great advantage in that there is a lot of social. This increases the safety of sex workers. “No better control than social control!”
(This article was translated from the Amsterdam based daily-newspaper Het Parool)