City center council meeting: Q&A
This is the third and last part about the Amsterdam city center council meeting. You can read the first part here. In this part I will answer the most important questions the politicians themselves asked during this meeting, which regards improving the position of sex workers, the waterbed effect moving into illegal prostitution, and how big the problem of PTSD is.

For those of you that wish to look back the entire meeting, you can watch it back online on this link.

Here goes:

I would also like to take the opportunity to answer some of the questions some of the politicians asked during this meeting. These questions have already been answered by Yolanda van Doeveren, but as you can see her information isn't always good, so I'll take this opportunity to answer some of these questions coming from a prostitute herself, rather then a propaganda instrument from a city government that's goal it is to reduce prostitution windows under false pretenses.

Questions from mr. Alexander Hammelburg (D66):
What are some of the more concrete things you're doing to improve the position of sex workers?
Basically not much. The city government is primarily working on offering help to victims, but thusfar the city government and the prostitution program hasn't done much about improving our position. We still have trouble to open normal bank accounts, let alone getting a business bank account (although Yolanda van Doeveren makes it sound like this isn't a problem anymore). Getting a loan or a mortgage however is still out of the question. My last attempt to get a mortgage for a house for me and my boyfriend stranded after trying with 12 different banks.
A large part of improving the position of sex workers has to do with the image prostitution has. That image is right now extremely negative, since people immediately associate prostitution with girls being forced and human trafficking, or dirty, sleazy disgusting women with no values for their own life or hygiene.
Ironically the city government itself plays a large role in the negative image surrounding prostitution. Their constant hammering on the problems of human trafficking, which really isn't as big as they claim, and reducing windows in the Red Light District, has caused the general opinion of people to be very negative towards prostitution. Amsterdam's Red Light District is the public face of prostitution in Holland, and by giving off such a negative image about prostitution here (which is far from reality might I add), reflects on the entire prostitution industry in Holland itself. A mayor that keeps closing down windows, publicly stating he's doing this to reduce the huge amounts of girls being forced in our industry, is not only a pure lie, it stigmatizes prostitutes as victims, gives the entire industry a bad name, and causes the position of prostitutes to become more unstable.
Yes, there are girls working in this industry who are forced, this is however a very small part of all of the prostitutes, although nobody can tell exactly how many. Most cases about human trafficking however do not revolve around forced girls, but exploited girls, girls that were financially exploited but the choice to do this job was one of their own. In reality you'll find girls that are really forced are really hard to find, simply because there are just not that many of them around. Girls who are being exploited are a bigger problem, one to which I already explained exactly how it worked, and how to solve it, in this post here.

Could you tell us a little bit more about the 'klankbordgroep' of sex workers, the thinking machine and co-creators of this policy?
Yes, this group is very small, and very few girls from the prostitution industry are involved, let alone know about it's existence. Calling the group the 'co-creators and thinking machine' of this policy would be laughable, since it's a group of around 20 women, which is about 0.5% of the (lowest) estimated prostitutes working in Amsterdam, and not even 2,5% (if all of them would be window prostitutes) of the 900 window prostitutes.
Truth is, most prostitutes have very little knowledge about what's going on. This is partially because many women don't care, because they don't want to bother themselves with politics. But for the largest part because the city government doesn't inform them on what's happening, nor do many prostitutes know that there is this 'klankbordgroep'.

By the way Alexander, if you really think the prostitution industry is such a shady, hidden world, perhaps you should come and talk to us, in stead of Yolanda, perhaps that would improve your view on this industry. My idea is that you think this world is very shady, because lots of people talk very shady about it, to keep you in the dark about the realities of this industry. Come and talk to us, and you'll see we're just as shady as you are.

Questions from miss. Eva de Vries (D66):
Regarding the renting of windows on a daily base, and basically agreeing to a contract every day. Have the window renting conditions been improved?
As you can read here in my previous post extensively, the conditions to renting a window aren't as bad as you've been told. The city government did have something to do with the brothel owners offering us now a 2 months vacation period to take free, so in this case indeed they have improved. But don't worry, we're not stuck to a contract of any kind, we're free to go when and where we want.

Questions from mr. Michiel Wetzer (SP):
I wonder about the waterbed effect, sex workers that are moving into illegal prostitution as a result of the normalization.
A very good question, but let me adjust it a little bit. Indeed there are many girls moving into illegal prostitution, although Yolanda van Doeveren denies this by claiming 'we don't see many window girls for example moving into illegal massage salons'. Indeed you won't find many window prostitutes moving into illegal massage salons, and why would they? Behind the windows they're their own boss, and nobody tells them what to do or how to work. Working for a massage salon however (legal or illegal), means you work for a boss, something most window prostitutes really don't want. So indeed not many window prostitutes end up in illegal massage salons, you'll probably find them more moving into illegal home prostitution, or renting an apartment specifically to work in as an illegal prostitute.
Not too long ago the EO their show Dit Is De Dag spend some time covering this subject (view the episode here). And although they've tried to make illegal prostitution look very shady and unsafe, the position of the women seen in this documentary isn't that bad at all.
Also recent numbers show an increase in the numbers of illegal prostitutes growing, and although many will still deny it at this moment, some of these women are indeed former window prostitutes.
The mistake in your question is actually assuming that this waterbed effect is due to the normalization, because this is only the reason for a few women. A bigger reason for more women to move into illegal prostitution, is because there are simply less legal workplaces then before, because more and more windows keep closing down, as is the case in Amsterdam as well. Last year 300 women lost their legal workplace in Utrecht, Amsterdam itself already closed down 109 windows, nationally more then 600 legal prostitution windows have been closed, and in total 1/3 of all the legal workplaces for prostitutes have been closed down since the regulation in 2000. In other words, the numbers of places a girl can work legal are decreasing enormously. These women don't just stop this job, since they have very legit reasons for doing this work. Therefor you'll see many girls moving into illegal prostitution, since there are less and less legal places they can execute this work.
Expect illegal prostitution to be growing exponentially as long as city governments keep deciding to close down the few legal places for prostitution that are left.

Questions from mr. Roeland Rengelink (PVDA):
I've heard from the doctors and nursus at the P&G 292 that many prostitutes have PTSD, because if that's the case it's not the question anymore of how many women are victims of trafficking, but then the entire industry would be extremely unhealthy.
Ah, what else could I have guessed coming from the PVDA, but a negative sneer to try and make prostitution look as negative as possible. Although prostitution can be a stressful job, I doubt that many prostitutes would have a PTSD, for the very simple reason: where would we need to get this from? We should get PTSD from getting fucked? If that would be the case, then sex on itself could be considered unhealthy. Are you going to try and make sex look bad as well now?
Fact is that the P&G 292 for most girls is just a place to do the SOA test. The people at the P&G 292 don't examine the girls who just come for a check up on PTSD. I guess the girls who have been examined for PTSD, had a good reason to be examined, which is because they were a victim of something, for instance human trafficking.
But assuming that a PTSD comes from this job is even taking it one step to far. PTSD can come from many things not related to prostitution, that can still happen to prostitutes. So just because a prostitute has PTSD, doesn't automatically mean she got it from this job. And I sincerely doubt many girls would get PTSD from doing this job in the first place.
But let's just assume for a second that they would get PTSD from this work. Would that be a reason to call this industry 'unhealthy'? And would unhealthy be a reason not to support this profession anymore? After all, the largest group of people with PTSD are people from the army, a job not only supported, but even constructed by the government. Should we just quit the army, because soldiers have a big chance of getting PTSD? I don't think so. And do you call being a solder an unhealthy profession? I guess you could say that, but then again that would be kind of a weird argument, since I think a lot of people think very positive about soldiers.
Stop trying to find reasons to make prostitution look bad, and pay more attention to both the positive and the negative sides. You seem purely focused on condemning prostitution as a negative thing, and that way prostitutes will never become independent and 'empowered' women, and it will certainly not help any victims.
Yolanda van Doeveren made it sound in her answer like we're having sex with every client that comes along, by her statement: 'if you calculate how many clients a prostitute needs to make some money, you even cannot imagine how that would work physically'. Fact is that we don't have so much actual sex with our customers as people often assume. So it's not like you're fucking with every client that comes along. I wrote extensively about our customers and what actually happens inside here. Some clients don't have the intention to have sex, most do, but then again most of them can't even get it hard to have sex with. In the end you don't even have sex with half of your clients.

Questions from mr. Alexander Hammelburg (D66):
What is the status of the corporation of sex workers in development itself?
An excellent question, since most prostitutes have no idea this thing even exist. In fact, I even wonder if this is really happening at all. I've read in an article from Ilonka Stakelborough, that her foundation Geisha is working on that, and I think this is what Yolanda van Doeveren is talking about.
But then again, the article also mentions something about working contracts that are completely false, like I explained in the first post here. And Ilonka Stakelborough also often mentions she has contact with over 600 prostitutes, yet nobody in the sex industry has contact with this woman. I've tried a couple of times to get in touch with her, but she seemed reluctant to be in contact with me.
Honestly I think this corporation is just a project Ilonka claims to be working on, in order to receive funding. In reality however I don't think she's really setting something up. No women from the Red Light District are involved with this as far as I know, nor could anyone else point me to any women being involved with this.
In short, the status is dead. If they are really working on a corporation, I'd like to see some actual proof of that, besides claims from people that often make false claims. Who are these women that are involved with the corporation? Names, numbers, anything?!

These are some of the major points I've picked out from the meeting, of course there might be some smaller things I've missed, and there was also some good information. For example Yolanda van Doeveren mentioned that the new rules the city government set up for the brothel owners are really strict, and it's a lot of work for the brothel owners to implement all of these rules in their company, and she also mentions that the brothel owners are all working very hard on this with good results (quite the opposite from the image we got from the mayor, like I wrote about in my last post here).

Read here part 1 about our working contracts and conditions.
Read here part 2 about the our involvement in the policies.

Dutch version
4 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    You say that you expect illegal prostitution to increase exponentially. Well, that's not the case. First, though, I am seriously impressed with your English. And because you are so important in the 'Prostitution debate' I feel that it's right that you get it right every time. What I would like you to do is modify the text and then delete my comment - and then it will be right. OK, it goes like this: exponential growth reads as 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 ....
    Arithmetic growth relies on real numbers. If 150 girls are forced to quit De Wallen then a maximum of 150 can engage in illegal prostitution. In practice, this is likely to be fewer than 150 (not more, and certainly not as a doubling phenomenon).

    Having said that, loved this blog entry!!!


  2. Cliente X Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Cliente X Says:

    Felicia, I also have a couple of questions 4 u:

    - first of all, u claim that there are prostitutes -"a very small part", u say- forced. I understand that u mean forced to work in prostitution, this is, prostituted. Not forced to pay to work in prostitution. Correct me if I'm wrong. But as far as I've read in ur blog, I can't see ANY evidence of this, as u say that all the other girls u have met engage in prostitution by their own will and also don't need to pay anyone.

    So, how can u know that there is a part -even a small one- of them forced?

    - second, u say that town hall's speech about prostitution "stigmatizes prostitutes as victims, gives the entire industry a bad name, and causes the position of prostitutes to become more unstable". Do u think that local authorities are aware of that?

    I mean, do u think that they want the harm they are doing or not? If not, whats the reason to act in this way? But if the answer is affirmative, which interests could they have? In which way this message could benefit politicians agenda?

    Thank u for ur answers.


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    Romanian prostitute working in the Red Light District in Amsterdam (De Wallen), speaking out for the truth behind prostitution. Blogging about prostitution, human trafficking, forced prostitution, politics and all the myths surrounding it. Member of PROUD, the Dutch union of sex workers.