Why the media should check their facts
I'm getting so tired of all those articles that are so filled with complete bullshit about Amsterdam's Red Light District. So often they state completely false facts, and they're being written by people who already have a negative idea about prostitution before they started writing about it.
It's interesting to see how often those articles are British. Apparently British people love to talk very negative about prostitution and especially Amsterdam's Red Light District, I guess this is also one of the main reasons why so many British people always come to Amsterdam's Red Light District to party. After all, nothing's more sexier then a taboo.

This article is another one of those examples, written by Lily Rae, a 'writer and musician', because obviously writers and musicians have an intimate understanding of Amsterdam's Red Light District, prostitution and human trafficking. But beyond that Lily Rae isn't exactly an expert on this subject, her article shows that Lily Rae already had a negative view on prostitution and Amsterdam's Red Light District before ever getting in touch with it. Her description of how uncomfortable she felt, and how women are being displayed as pieces of meat, shows this woman has difficulties to understand the world of prostitution, and has already condemned prostitution on itself before ever getting informed about it.
But besides the prejudice of the writer, there's something else wrong with this article. The article is filled with absolutely false facts. Some things just aren't true at all, some things are a bit different from how she describes it (as a result of not informing herself about the actual facts), and some things are just pure assumptions.

Interestingly enough her title is one of the few things that she is correct about. "Why Amsterdam's prostitution laws laws are still failing to protect or empower women". The reasons she used to support this conclusion however are so filled with misinformation, that stating this based upon her arguments, is very far from the truth.

The first mistake the article makes is already in the very first line of the article:

"Amsterdam may be heralded as a hub for liberalism and social progression following its legalisation of prostitution in 1988 and consumption of marijuana."

Prostitution hasn't already been a crime since 1809 in The Netherlands, but prostitution wasn't (locally) regulated until the 1st of October of 2000. Wherever Lily came up with that it was legislated in 1988 I don't know, but fact is that this is NOT TRUE.

The second line of her article isn't much better:

"However, after a significant number of brothels have been closed due to suspected criminal activity in the best known Red Light district of De Wallen in Amsterdam, alongside the nature of displaying women in windows like pieces of meat, it shows that the system has not worked."

Did brothels really close down due to suspected criminal activities? Well, I bet the city government would sell the story that way, since they did attempt to get the brothels closed on suspicions of criminal activities. However, the city government lost that court case big time, and the brothel owner in question (Charles Geerts), was cleared of all charges.
It wasn't until this defeat, that the city government started plan B, which wasn't closing down windows due to suspicions of criminal activities, but simply buying out the brothel owner with lots of money. And so it happened, that Charles Geerts his brothels weren't closed down due to suspicions of criminal activities, but simply because he accepted the city government their offer of 25 million euro's to buy the buildings.
So, no, the brothels weren't closed due to suspected criminal activities, they were closed because the city government payed a shit load of (tax payers) their money for it.
This part of the article is by the way also the first time we see a glimpse of the writer's personal opinion on how she views prostitution in Amsterdam, when she writes 'displaying women in windows like pieces of meat'. Apparently she views prostitutes in windows as pieces of meat, yet she feels so sorry for us? Honestly?

The next headline isn't much better either:

"The Normalisation of Exploitation"

Again a big no. At no point in time in history did the government in Holland ever decide to 'normalise' the exploitation of prostitutes. In fact, it is because of exploitation, that many politicians had worries about legislating it back in 2000, and is still to this day one of the reasons why prostitution is so heavily legislated with as a negative side-effect that it obstructs prostitutes in their freedom. But NEVER did the government 'normalize exploitation'.
This part also shows the writer's intention to condemn the legalization of prostitution as the 'normalisation of exploitation'. With one line she's actually saying that legalizing and normalizing prostitution is equal to normalizing exploitation, which is of course not true. But it does show the writer's view on the subject, and how she 'feels' that legalizing prostitution is similar to making exploitation a regular thing, like it's normal. This just proves the author feels prostitution is the same thing as exploitation, with other words, all prostitutes are exploited, which is definitely not the case at all.

The article continues with her first trip to Amsterdam at the 'ripe' age of 23, and all the places she's visited. But then the article begins to turn to one particular Dutch thing, the FEBO, a Dutch fast-food chain with fastfood behind a glass window, in where you have to insert coins to take out the fastfood. A simple concept with great succes in Holland, as many Dutch people often grab a bite from the FEBO. Lily desribes it as:

"you've got a burger without the need for awkward human interaction"

Of course the idea behind the added line 'without the need for awkward human interaction', is a set-up to make the thing that comes next sound cold and almost inhuman, since there's 'awkward human interaction'. It makes one doubt about what kind of 'awkward' human interaction Lily has when she visits a fast food restaurant. Is Lily such an awkward person that her simple interaction with a person working at a fast food restaurant already become 'awkward human interaction'. I don't know about her, but this makes it sound more like she finds human interaction 'awkward', and would rather avoid it.

But the thing she wants to draw attention to of course follows in the next sentence:

"Funnily enough, the way women lined the windows in De Wallen resembled that of a Febo snack - quick, easy, and on display for those who need a quick fix."

As we could've guessed by now, Lily has tried to compare her 'akward' interaction with the people working at a fast-food restaurant to that of a prostitute, and displays more negative emotions towards this. She basically describes prostitutes behind the windows as 'quick, easy, and on display for those who need a quick fix', as if we're some quick and easy sluts that will fuck with everyone.

She continues this in the headline for the next part of her article, with says:

"Women as Fast Food 'Treat'"

She continues the article by stating yet again falsely that the purchase of sex has been legal since 1988, and then describes her own experience of walking through the Red Light District:

"Walking through the Red Light District is supposedly a fun, unique experience – countless people had reassured me that I "had to visit it", but I found the narrow, cobbled streets of De Wallen to be passively hostile, especially to women."

This is another example of the author's narrow mind. Apparently she experiences the Red Light District as 'hostile' and especially to women, though she fails to explain why. Again this tells us more about her then it actually says something about the Red Light District itself. It doesn't say the Red Light District is hostile, it simply says she feels it's 'hostile' going there. I always wonder why people go there if they're uncomfortable about it. I mean, they know they're not gonna see any clowns or other circus acts, so why are people always so surprised to find prostitutes behind the window in an area that's world famous for it's prostitutes behind the window? 
It's like you have trouble with people who gamble, and think it's a waste of time and money, yet you still go to Las Vegas and act surprised and disgusted that there are casino's over there where people gamble with their money. What the fuck did you expect?!

The next part of her article continues with her own personal 'feelings' towards prostitution:

"I couldn't help but keep my head down and rush through, trying to avoid the gaze of the girls – many of whom looked younger than me – displayed in the glass windows like cuts of meat. Like the sweaty Febo snacks, couped up in their display cabinets.

In fact, the whole Red Light experience made me uncomfortable and sad.

These women – or rather, their bodies – were being reduced to nothing more than a tourist attraction. The fact that a girl in this city is presented in much the same way as a burger in a fast-food joint is somewhat disturbing to me."

Again the author displays more of her personal disgust with prostitution, which shows her lack of respect for the women doing this work (like me). I hear these kind of things so often, when people talk about the Red Light District and they say we're 'like pieces of meat on display'.
Of course their intention is to give people the idea that other people (mainly men) perceive us as nothing more then 'pieces of meat', degrading us from a woman to nothing more then just some piece of meat. But fact is that this is not the opinion of 'other people' walking in the Red Light District, but it's the opinion of the person stating this. They see us as 'pieces of meat on display', since that's how they perceive us in their opinion towards others, and by doing so show a complete lack of respect for us.
She also mentions that the 'many of the girls 'looked younger than me'. A passive statement of course, since this first of all says nothing about the actual age, but again, just more about how she experiences and sees things. But fact is that all women are at least 18 years of age, and since last year the city government has raised the minimum age even to 21. The city government's own prostitution inspectors also check this regularly, as they regularly come to check the girls for their legal documents and registration papers. But besides them, also the police regularly comes to check for this, and besides all the checking from the city government and the police, no brothel owner will rent out a window to a girl that's younger then 18 (or now 21) out of fear of loosing his permit and closing all of his windows down for business. To guarantee himself no girl slips past him, the brothel owners demands you show him your registration papers and ID and/or passport every day before he will even hand you the key to your workplace.
Beyond that all the girls working in the Red Light District have to register themselves first at the Chambers of Commerce as a self-employed business owner, for which you also have to be at least 18. And in the past decade no minors have ever been found, not by the police not the city government, despite their regular checks. In short, there's no way in hell you'll ever going to find a minor behind the windows in Amsterdam, simply because you'll never even get a room from the brothel owner.
The fact that the author perceives 'many' of the women behind the windows as 'younger then her' is of course only implying there are minors here. After all, she was 23 at the time, a 'ripe' age as she calls it herself, so the fact that many women were younger then her wouldn't even mean it would be a crime at all. 
But truth is, most women working here are already way older then 18. Most women working here are somewhere between 23 and 50 years old, and that's really a huge majority. I still to this day get people who ask me if I'm old enough to do this job (I'm almost 28 now). Last week I had another guy that asked me if he could see my passport, because he couldn't believe I was older then 18. 
We can't help it we look young and fresh, that's just how most Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian women look like. In our eyes women from West-Europe and the U.S. look already like they're 30 when they're still only 16. What can I say, we've got good genes, I'm not going to apologize for that! Perhaps this says more about how 'old' the author already looked like when she was 23.

Then the author continues about the Amsterdam city council:

"Amsterdam City Council goes to great lengths to try and ensure the safety of the women working.

Police patrol the city; each room is equipped with a panic button; the women undergo regularly mandatory health checks and are encouraged to register their profession, to pay taxes."

This part almost made me laugh. The thought that the city council would actually be interested in our safety. If that would've been really the case, they wouldn't have closed down so many windows without helping out the women that lost their workplace. Fact is, like I wrote here, that the city council didn't give a shit about us. 
Fact is, that the city government was never really interested in 'ensuring our safety'. That's just an excuse they used to close down windows and reduce the Red Light District, in hopes of reducing trouble-making, drunk, noisy and (sometimes even) violent tourists (which funny enough mostly are Dutch people I can tell you), and replacing them with family-friendly tourists with deep pockets of 'high class', that like art and love visiting museums. You can see the results of this if you look at the 109 closed windows thus far, and still 100 windows scheduled to go, the many attempts the city council made to turn the Red Light District into a 'high class' area with their failed 'Red Light Fashion' project, and other attempts to allow artists such a painters and sculptors in those windows, in hopes it would be a success. Their most recent move has been to aggressively promote the 'Rijksmuseum' as their 'top attraction', completely ignoring the fact that the Red Light District is and always will be the number one attraction in Amsterdam. 

The author also writes about the fact that police patrol the city, which has nothing to do with having legalized prostitution. After all, which city doesn't have police patrolling the city? But what I think she means to say, is that the police are protecting the prostitutes, which is an example of why legalized prostitution is much safer and not worse. 

She also mentions the fact that each room is equipped with a panic button. Indeed, each room has one, which makes a damn lot of noise. Fun fact about that I also read recently. Apparently Dennis Boutkan from the PVDA is now claiming it was his idea to implement sound alarms. In this article here, the PVDA makes it sound like all the brothels use a silent alarm at the moment, but because of the 'new plan' from Dennis Boutkan, we're now being blessed with a sound alarm which is much more effective.
Fact is however that all the brothels have been  using sound alarms already for years, and it was the city council their recent plan to switch those to silent alarms, because of noise complaints from the neighborhood. I met a while back with Dennis Boutkan and talked with him about this (among other things), and apparently he has come to the conclusion that a silent alarm doesn't do the trick. You see, the alarm works because it makes a damn lot of noise, and the clients get scared when they hear it. It's actually this fear and shock that they get, that prevents dangerous situations from escalating, as the clients run off scared. 
So this whole 'new idea' the PVDA has now proudly introduced isn't new at all, it's the same damn thing we've been using for years already, but the PVDA just wants to get the credits for reverting their own plans of obligating the window owners to install a silent alarm. Basically all they've done is pulled out their own dumb plan and let us continue doing our things the way we were already doing it. But okay Dennis, at least you listened to me, I have to give you credit for that.

She also mentions that health checks are mandatory, but this is not the case. Although many prostitutes do get a regular, and free health check, it's not obligated, This is one of those common myths I've read already many times, but truth is that it's not mandatory, something that Lily could've found out if she actually did some fact checking, and not copied all the bullshit from websites that state myths and false facts.
And we're not encouraged to register ourselves, in fact, we're obligated to register ourselves. Like I wrote here above, to get a window you need to be registered at the Chambers of Commerce. If you're not registered, the window owners won't even look at you any further, let alone rent you a room. All prostitutes working in the Red Light District are registered!

The article continues with the statement:

"The logic behind the legalisation of prostitution seems to be that by bringing the underworld into the light, the criminal aspect would surely dissolve.

Well, that wasn't exactly the logic behind the legalization. The real idea behind the legalization was that prostitution will always continue, whether you legalize it or not. The problem however if you don't legalize it, is that you can't control it nor help any possible victims, since prostitution goes underground. But if you legalize it, you have at least some control, and then the prostitutes won't have to hide from the police out of fear of being arrested, and would therefor improve the safety of both prostitutes that do this work by choice (because they have a better and safer work environment), and those that are victims of trafficking (which you can offer help because they won't be working in the underground scene).
But indeed it's also true that legalization does shine a light on the criminal aspect, and this has also worked. After all, the reason why Holland has more registered human trafficking cases, is because of the very simple reason that we can now actually see them, and therefore register them. Not making it legal wouldn't have made more or less victims, they just would've stayed hidden, not showing up on the radar, and therefore not registered. Just because you don't register it, doesn't mean it's not happening. The fact that Holland is able to register human trafficking now, also means we can do something about it to save the victims and put the traffickers in jail. But if you can't find them, you can't save any girls or put any bad guys in jail. It's as simple as that.

She continues:

"In theory, women would be less likely to suffer abuse at the hands of pimps, less likely to be involved in human trafficking, and more likely to earn a decent wage.

And yet, the system hasn't worked – it's made things worse."

Yes, indeed, how surprising that a woman that feels disgusted with prostitution, claims that 'the system hasn't worked'. But I wonder what real facts the has to support this claim.

The first thing she claims is:

"A prostitute in Amsterdam, a notoriously expensive city, will pay up to one hundred euro a night for the rent of a window."

Indeed Amsterdam can be an expensive place, but would that have been any different if prostitution was not legalized? I don't think so. In fact, since prostitution has such a big stigma, prices of houses around areas of prostitution are usually lower, because nobody wants to live next to a prostitute. And because nobody wants to live next to a prostitute, the houses close by are usually not very wanted, causing the prices to go down. So you could even argue that without legalizing it, Amsterdam may have been even more expensive without it's window prostitution.
But I don't recall Amsterdam being more expensive then any other Western capital city, and this still doesn't say anything about the prices of the window rent. The price that she mentions 'up to one hundred euro a night' is another example of how poorly misinformed the author is about Amsterdam's Red Light District. Prices are closer to 150 euro then 100 euro for a night, and above all, it wasn't the legalization that caused these prices to be so high.

She continues with more bullshit:

"She also has to pay a pimp, and pay taxes if she registers – though only 5% of prostitutes have actually registered for tax, perhaps for fear of the social stigma that comes with publicly announcing yourself as a prostitute."

Apparently the author is assuming we need a pimp. Well my dear Lily, I'm sorry to break your bubble here, but most girls don't have a pimp, simply because we don't need it. After all, there are basically two things a pimp can offer. The first one is to get you clients, but since we're all grouped together in an area that is famous for it's prostitution, we don't need any pimps to get clients. All the negotiations with the client happen directly with us, not through a pimp. If you would've looked up, and not starred so much with your head down at those cobble stones, you might have actually also seen this. But because you choose not to look, you also weren't able to check if the image you have about Amsterdam's Red Light District corresponds with the realities.
The second reason a girl would need a pimp for is for protection. But let this be one of the reasons why they legalized prostitution in the first place. In countries where prostitution is illegal, often a girl will have a pimp that protects the girl in exchange for a part of her income. But in Amsterdam we already have protection from the police, since it's a legal profession, and we don't have the need for any protection from pimps. After all, you said it yourself, we have a freakin' alarm button!

She also claims we pay tax 'if she registers', as if it's an option to register yourself or not. In her article she links to this article, which makes the same claim. Also there they claim that only 5 percent are registered for tax. I have no idea where these people get this bullshit, but that's absolutely not true. In fact, you can't even work without being registered, you won't even get a window from the brothel owner without showing your registration papers every single day that you rent the room (and yes, I seriously mean every single fucking day).
So it's not a choice to register yourself. All window prostitutes have to be registered at the Chambers of Commerce, without it they won't even get a window, and being registered at the Chambers of Commerce automatically means you have to pay tax. So that only 5 percent would be registered is complete and utter bullshit and completely false, and this also get's regularly checked by police, prostitution inspectors, the Dutch IRS and the brothel owner itself.

Then she says something interesting about the social stigma of prostitution. An interesting thing, since she's actually the one who helps to create exactly that stigma that she's talking about. Fortunately the government allows prostitutes to register themselves under different definitions besides the definition of just prostitute. A while ago the government tried to change that, to get more insight in to who is a prostitute or not, but since that violated our privacy, and could even endanger us (the Chambers of Commerce register is open to the public) for example by stalkers, they scrapped this idea, and allowed prostitutes to be registered under different definitions.
In short, prostitutes aren't scared to register themselves for tax, since they can register themselves under different definitions, and don't have to 'publicly announce' that they work as a prostitute. Another example of simply being poorly informed.

She continues with another example which shows her ignorance about the subject, when she writes:

"Just in order to take some home for herself she'll have to have sex with ten to fifteen people per day."

I don't know if this woman simply is misinformed about the prices we charge, or didn't finish her school. But if she claims that the price of a window rent is 100 euro, and the standard price we charge is 50, then we would only need 3 clients to make 50 euro for ourselves. Based on her own 'facts', 10 clients a day would come down to 500 euro (50 euro X 10 clients), and according to her the window rent would be 100 euro, so that would leave us with 400 euro a day! Based on 15 clients a day, this would even come down to 650 euro profit for us a day! If these were the amount of clients I had a day, I'd be very happy. Honestly though, I'm happy if I get 10 clients a day on a regular day.
Another assumption she makes, one that people often make, is that we have to have sex with clients. First of all, saying it like this makes it sound like it's something bad. 'We have to have sex'. But let's be honest, if you have a problem to have sex with other people, then prostitution clearly isn't your type of job. The ones that do, don't have a problem with having sex with other people for money. So stating it like this, is like stating that the toilet lady has to clean the toilet 20 times a day. Yeah, obviously, that's the whole point of the job, isn't it?!
But more importantly, it isn't even true. Like I've explained already many times, we don't have sex with all of our customers. In fact, we have sex with less then half our customers, because most are too drunk or too stoned or too nervous to even get a hard one. Also, the prostitutes don't 'have to have sex', it's their business, they decide if they have sex with customers or not, and they decide which customers they let it or not. I've written extensively on this subject before, as you can read here.
The author also links to an article that is supposed to be the 'proof' of these claims. But when you read the article, it simply becomes laughable. It claims for instance that "approximately 9000 people had been trafficked into the sex industry in Amsterdam", which is really funny, because that's even more then the total estimated prostitutes in the sex industry in Amsterdam itself, which ranges from 4000 to 7000 prostitutes. In short, the number of trafficked victims for prostitution in Amsterdam would be bigger then the total amount of prostitutes themselves. I could go on more about this article, but I think this is already enough to show you that this bullshit is a complete lie.

The article continues by stating:

"The vocal union for the sex workers, De Rode Draad, went bankrupt and closed down in 2009. In addition to this, 13 sex workers have been murdered in De Wallen since 1990."

I did an actual headcount of the number of prostitutes that have been murdered in the Amsterdam Red Light District since 1990, and the facts come down to only 5, and not 12 like the author states here. Apparently the author is still under the assumption that prostitution was legalized already in 1988, thus beginning to count the number of murder from 1990 to prove her point that the situation has gotten worse, and safety has gotten worse.
Fun fact is, that legalization of course didn't start until 2000, and that since that period the numbers of prostitutes that have been murdered in this country (the author focuses only on Amsterdam, but it's not just Amsterdam where prostitution is legal, but the entire country) has decreased with 35%, as you can read in my article about prostitution murders in Holland here.
So again a case of being misinformed.

The article continues with more misinformed information:

"After twenty years of legalised prostitution, the council ended up cutting down the Red Light district's brothels from 482 to 243 after bouts of criminal activity."

Of course 20 years should have been 8 years. Because of course in reality prostitution didn't get legalized until 2000 rather then 1988, and the city council decided already 8 years later to cut down the number of brothels back in 2008.
Besides that also the numbers of windows are wrong, there are in total 283 and not 243 windows in the Red Light District, and more importantly, there never where 482 windows in the Red Light District, this was the total amount of windows in Amsterdam as a whole and not just the Red Light District itself. Besides the famous Red Light District known as De Wallen, Amsterdam has two other areas with window prostitution, De Pijp (Ruysdealkade) with about 45 windows and the Singel area with about 66 windows.
And indeed the city council did claim to close down windows due to criminal activities, but in reality (and this is also publicly known), the city council lost that accusation in court because they had no proof of this, and afterwards simply bought out the owner, like I already explained here above.

The article continues with another statement that never gets proven anywhere:

"Why Legalising Prostitution is Rotten to the Core

De Wallen, for all its beautiful architecture and friendly people, is rotten to the core, much like the concept of legalized prostitution."

And then continues by blaming the government from profiting off the 'sex trade' itself:

As these bored-looking girls stand behind their red-lit glass doors, looking out as much as we look in, we are supposed to feel better in the knowledge that this profession is sanctioned by the government, which in turn means that the government itself will profit off the sex trade.

Of course her added 'we are supposed to feel better in the knowledge that this profession is sanctioned by the government', is again an example of how the author tries to suggest negative things, without actually stating it. The only thing she does get right here, is the fact that the government itself profits from prostitution itself, which is also why we always call the government itself our biggest pimp.

She then continues with the most famous bullshit of all:

"However, this doesn't automatically mean that these women have a choice in their work. I'm told there are many women who do enjoy prostitution; I've yet to hear of one, though, and bear in mind that the average age of a woman entering the sex trade is fourteen."

Unlike most articles, this article doesn't dare itself to calling out numbers or percentages of numbers of women being forced into prostitution. In stead it chooses to simply suggest things, by adding in "I'm told there are many women who do enjoy prostitution; I've yet to hear of one, though(...)". Again more 'telling', 'thinking' and assuming things, without any actual facts.
The fact that she hasn't heard of one prostitute who enjoys prostitution isn't such a surprising thing, if you're only looking online for stories about forced prostitutes, that's what you'll find. Truth is, you can find plenty of prostitutes talking about how they enjoy prostitution. However, I'm not one of them. I don't 'enjoy' prostitution. And why should I? Is it necessary for prostitutes to enjoy their job in order not to have a problem with it? How many people 'enjoy' their work really? 
The point if you enjoy your work or not is irrelevant, the point of it being a choice of your own however is much more important. And fact is that many women, even many victims of human trafficking itself, choose for prostitution by themselves. It's a common misunderstanding that victims of human trafficking didn't choose to do prostitution. That's primarily only the case with forced prostitutes, but fact is that most human trafficking cases are about exploitation and not so much forced prostitution. 
But this is an old trick, first claiming that you doubt someone's choice for prostitution, to subsequently link it to 'enjoying' the profession. How many of you had a free choice to do the job you're doing now, versus how many of you 'enjoy' your profession? Fact is that almost nobody 'enjoys' his or her profession, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a free choice they made for themselves.

The second part of this piece is another bullshit statistic, claiming that the average age for entering the sex trade is 14. The article links to an article of NOMAS, a 'national organisation for men against sexism' and tags 'pro-feminists' as one of their target groups. The sources for these statements however all come down to researches being done in the U.S., and not in Holland, but more importantly this was a studied that surveyed only minors. So obviously a survey about minors is going to show you a very young age, since it's about MINORS! Someone else wrote an entire article about this, which you can find here.
Truth however is, yet again, like I stated above, that there's simply no way a minor could work behind the windows in Amsterdam. And from personal experience I can tell that the average age for entering prostitution, regarding women in the Red Light District, is closer to 23 then to 13. So again completely false information.

Then the article continues with another statement that's been bugging me lately:

"The problem is that the legalising of prostitutes creates a higher demand for these women. That's where human trafficking comes in, and Amsterdam – along with much of Eastern Europe – is one of the most heavily trafficked places in the world, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)."

Does legalizing something create a higher demand? Let's examine that claim for a moment. If prostitution would be illegal, would there be less men wanting to visit a prostitute? No, since they still do it, but it just happens unprotected, thus unsafe. Do more men visit prostitutes because it's legal? Well, maybe, there are no statistics about this as far as I know, so this perhaps could be true, but stating it without any proof is just assuming it.
But let's look at it the other way around. Does legalizing prostitution create a bigger stream of women willing to do sex work? Yes, because that's exactly what's going on here. Fact is that in most parts of the world prostitution is illegal, though there are plenty of women willing to do sex work as a job, to simply make a lot of money, or just purely as a survival option.
Fact is that because Holland made prostitution legal as the first country in the world, this has had an attraction to women wanting to enter prostitution, or already working in prostitution in their own country where prostitution was illegal, and therefore also unsafe. By legalizing prostitution, Holland created a beacon of hope and safety for these women, thus creating the effect that many women moved to Holland, because here they could perform this job in a safe way, unlike their home country.
Besides that, I've also explained before, that because Holland legalized prostitution, it was also able to monitor better human trafficking, since it now surfaced from the underworld. Because it surfaced, Holland was able to register better, and therefor more, human trafficking, giving them the possibilities to help more women, in stead of neglecting them and ignoring the very fact that victims exists, simply by making it illegal.
In short, bigger numbers of trafficking, simply imply that Holland has got a better idea of the realities of human trafficking, unlike countries that have trouble to register it, because it's all happening underground.

And then the next part of the article brings us to the infamous Saban B.:

"In 2008, six men were convicted of the "largest case of human trafficking ever brought to trial in the Netherlands."

According to the investigation: "some of the victims were compelled to have breast enlargement surgery, and one defendant was convicted of forcing at least one woman to have an abortion.

"Women were beaten and forced to sit in icy water to avoid bruising. They also were tattooed.""

This is the case of Saban B., the notorious pimp which caused a shock reaction through Holland, and eventually was the reason why the city government started with their project 1012, to close down windows in the Red Light District. Now besides the fact that Saban B. began already back in the end of the 1990's, before prostitution was legalized, and was already repeatedly reported to the police by both brothel owners and prostitutes pressing charges, it was the police who did nothing for almost 10(!) years, until eventually they dusted off the files and began to look into the case, leading to his arrest.
But here's my question. Was it despite of Holland legalizing prostitution that they caught Saban B. and his gang of brutal pimps? Or was it due to Holland legalizing prostitution that they were able to catch him? After all, if prostitution would have been illegal, none of the victims or the brothel owners would ever have gone to the police with their stories, leading to his arrest. But it was due to the fact that prostitution was legal, that prostitutes and brothel owners weren't afraid to go to the police to report this man, leading to his arrest, even though this still took way too long
This is the very essence of why legalized prostitution is better. Because prostitution is legal, Holland is able to get a better insight in the world of prostitution, thus gaining more information about who the victims and the pimps are, in order to do something about it. While in countries where prostitution is still illegal, the very reason why they don't have such high numbers of trafficking and arrest of pimps, is because of the very simple reason that prostitutes and brothel owners are scared to go to the police, since they're doing something that's illegal and things will never get registered.
Make it legal, and indeed you'll get higher numbers of trafficking, and indeed you'll get more pimps arrested, but isn't that the whole point to get more pimps arrested? Would you rather have lower statistics, because you can't catch the bad guys, or higher statistics leading to more arrests and making the world a safer place?

Then the article continues with another report:

"In 2009, two men were jailed for forcing around 140 girls between the ages of 16 and 23 into prostitution in Europe – and by controlling them using voodoo."

Question is however: did this have anything to do with Amsterdam's Red Light District, or legalizing prostitution in Holland itself? Because if you look at the facts presented in court, as you can read in an article here, what really happened was this. Two Nigerian men brought 140 Nigerian girls into Holland as asylum seekers. Afterwards however the girls disappeared from the asylums, and popped up as forced prostitutes in Italy, Spain and France, though not Holland. 
This means the men simple used Holland as an entrance to Europe, a doorway, but they apparently felt Holland wasn't the right place to force these women into prostitution (something to do with too much control and police perhaps, due to legalizing it), and in fact brought them to other countries, of which all didn't legalize prostitution, like Italy, Spain and France, because of the low chances of getting caught there.
In short, this case just proves that the legalization works, and that these two traffickers actively avoided Holland as a place for prostitution, in favor of countries that hadn't legalized prostitution in order to avoid tricky inspections by police and other authorities. 
These girls where by the way mostly minors, so even if they wanted to, they could've never get these girls to work here, which could also be another reason why they choose to let the girls work in other countries.

And then the article continues with a bullshit video I already dedicated a lot of time to:

"A now famous campaign from Stop the Traffik showed several window girls breaking into a dance routine; following the routine a huge screen displayed the message "Every year, thousands of women are promised a dance career in Western Europe. Sadly, they end up here.""

Yes, the infamous Stop The Traffik campaign, which according to Esta Steyn, director of Stop The Traffik Holland, wasn't their campaign, but they were nearly asked by the makers of the campaign if they could use their organisation their name (can you believe it?).
Just because a video says so, doesn't make it true, and fact is that the few women that Esta Steyn has talked to working in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, were not forced. In fact, she hasn't spoken to one single girl from the Amsterdam Red Light District which had been a victim of human trafficking. Which makes one wonder, how can you claim things if you've never actually even met one?
Another fun fact is that indeed the video states 'sadly the end up here', but funny enough those 'thousands' of women they're talking about don't even have enough room, since, like I wrote down here before, Amsterdam only has about 400 windows, and the Red Light District itself has only 283 windows. So how do 'thousands' of women fit into only 283 windows?
I could write much more about this, but I've already done that before in this post here, so I'll let you people re-read that one again.

Then the article continues with more bullshit:

"Amsterdam's human trafficking problem is out of control, and try as they might to maintain a facade of safety for sex-workers, the fact remains: it is one of the most dangerous professions in the world and there is no guarantee of safety."

Of course this is complete nonsense. In fact, Amsterdam is the safest place on earth for prostitutes, due to the fact that it's legal, thus protected both in it's legal status and by government authorities, and beyond that has a cameras at every corner of the Red Light District. In fact, the Red light District has more camera's and police surveillance then the royal palace on the Dam in Amsterdam, and is one of the best protected areas in Holland.
Stating that this profession is one of the most dangerous professions is the world is again a display of ignorance. Prostitution is indeed not a job without any risks, but is comparable with let's say for instance a bar tender at a local pub. Besides the fact that the author is overestimating the dangers of this profession, she's ignoring the fact that there are far more dangerous jobs out there, and that danger is no reason to make a profession illegal, can be argued with the fact that the most dangerous jobs are often jobs the government themselves offer, such as soldiers in the army, police officers, etc.

But then the article all of the sudden becomes a rampage of purely false facts:

"Amsterdam's attempt to legalise prostitution, 'the oldest profession in the world', has failed, resulting in the acceptance of selling under-age, trafficked women as a tourist attraction."

Like you can read here above, the attempts haven't failed, it is due to the legalization that pimps are actively avoiding Holland as a place for forced prostitution in favor of countries that have not legalized it yet. It's also due to the legalization that Holland was able to arrest pimps and thereby reducing human trafficking, and the safety for sex workers themselves are far superior to those who work in countries where it's illegal.
The statements that legalizing prostitution has resulted in "the acceptance of selling under-age (...) women as a tourist attraction" is purely false, and is purely based on her own assumptions. Facts however shows that no minors were found behind the windows in Amsterdam's Red Light District, as also the city government can tell you, the police and all other authorities that deal with minors, prostitution or human trafficking will all be able to spit out for you.
Beyond that Amsterdam hasn't accepted the trafficking of women as a touristic attraction. In fact, quite the opposite, hence the closing down of prostitution windows, and hence the fact that Amsterdam does no promotion whatsoever regarding it's Red Light District, but heavily promotes the Rijksmuseum as 'the main touristic attraction' in Amsterdam, even though in reality it's still the Red Light District.

The article states further that:

"Traffickers are making a mint off slavery, thanks to this 'liberal' concept."

But in fact it seems more like they're avoiding this country in favor of countries who haven't legalized prostitution yet.

The article states that:

"Before we can even begin to consider the successful legalising of sex work, we must find a way to end the exploitation rampant in the sex trade – for a start, those who pay to have sex with human beings are rapists and should be prosecuted as such. Having sex with someone just so you can pay your rent is not consent."

This article is just accusing clients of prostitutes as rapist, assuming every prostitute is a victim and is forced. Of course this is another one of those dumb assumptions the author made, influenced by a negative emotion regarding sexwork and misinformed by articles that are produced by people that have a personal issue with prostitution itself.
The plan of prosecuting buyers of sex as rapists is exactly what they have done in Sweden, and is called the Swedish model, of which I explained here already why this is an extremely bad idea for both voluntarily working prostitutes as well as victims in need of saving.

And then the article finish on a typical radical feministic note:

"Despite its honourable intentions, Amsterdam's legalisation of prostitution is not liberal or empowering - it perpetuates the notion that women are the oldest form of currency."

Fact is that the only way to empower people, is to give people rights. And just like how Holland was the first country in the world to give gay people rights, that's also what they have done for prostitutes. You don't empower someone by making them illegal, this has never worked and will never work. Making something illegal, as history has taught us, has only led to criminals getting their hands on things, as for example the prohibition of alcohol has shown us in the 1930's in the US. 
Taking crime out of an industry begins with legalization, that doesn't mean that immediately the industry will be clean, that will take some time. Eventually though, like with the alcohol industry, prostitution when legalized will be a clean industry if you give it some time. Unfortunately Amsterdam itself was getting impatient with that, and decided to reduce it again, reducing the windows, claiming that would help against human trafficking. In reality however they haven't stopped the problems, they've just shoved all the junk under the carpet, hoping nobody would notice it. If you can't see it, it doesn't exist, right?
The idea that women are currency is a typical radical feministic way of thinking. The only ones that see it that way are the pimps and the feminists themselves. Fact is that everyone can make money with their body in one way or another. We do it by offering our body for services, a masseuse does it by offering her hands for services, a psychologist does it by offering his brain for services. If you see us as currency, that says more about your way of thinking and how you see us than that it actually says something about us. After all, Lily, aren't you the one selling her vocals for money? Doesn't that make you currency as well?

As you can see, the article is so filled with bullshit, false statistics, misinformation, assumptions and a basic ignorance about the subject, that it becomes almost laughable, were it not that some people take this serious. The article has already been shared on Yahoo, which really worries me, but what worries me most is that something called the International Business Times allows a woman/journalist/opinion maker to write something that is so filled with false facts. Don't you guys check your articles before you post them or something? And what the fuck does a financial news website has to do with prostitution? Check your damn facts before posting dumb shit like this. This article featured 12(!) factual mistakes in an article that uses about 1200 words, that's one mistake for every 100 words, which could've simply been avoided by checking your facts.
And, oh yeah, also check the copyrights of pictures before you post them, because your article is using pictures without the permission of the copyright holder, for which you may also get in trouble.

Dutch version
8 Responses
  1. A very well written and in depth post. Some people believe either consciously or unconsciously that because they have a right to express their voice/opinion, that they don't have the responsibility to put some factual foundation behind those opinions or voices.

    I would think because their views are already one sided they don't see the need for it, which ultimately just makes it another form of propaganda.

    But just as they see fit to spew bullshit, you have the right to combat it with facts, which you have, well done.


  2. Frans Says:

    Good Lord, you really had a good time to take this Lil' Lily writer to the cleaners! It 7,5 times longer than hers. You enjoy writing?

    Little observation about Lily's line:
    "Just in order to take some home for herself she'll have to have sex with ten to fifteen people per day:"

    The little copycat must be friends with Yolanda who insinuated the same torturous work condition during the stadsdeel meeting.
    "If one just looks for instance at the expense of renting a window. You can calculate how many clients on average they need per day, and then per month, and you get numbers that boggle your mind, how this works, just physically."
    ("als je alleen al kijkt naar de kosten die je moet maken om bij voorbeeld een raam te huren... je kunt zelf uitrekenen hoeveel klanten je gemiddeld per dag nodig hebt, dan even per maand enzo, dan kom je toch op aantallen waar je bijna niks meer van kan voorstellen hoe dat werkt, ook fysiek alleen al.")


  3. Two minds, one though. Wrote a similar, though much shorter post about the common misconceptions (lies) about Germany.

    Lies & Truths about the German Prostitution Act
    An Introduction for the Uninitiated
    http://wp.me/p4r4GT-7p

    You might also like Nine's
    Random Brothel Exposé Generator
    http://jinxremoving.org/brothel.html


  4. Anonymous Says:

    I see that there is scope to make a comment on the article (it requires one to register using, eg Facebook). I can't help feeling that a crisp summary of your (excellent) critique of the article would be useful there. Otherwise the article sits there as set of 'absolute facts' for every reader who comes across it.


  5. Ivonn Says:

    F*ck, I didn't get these good genes, I'm Hungarian but I always looked older (and not because of my sexworker "lifestyle" [:P], I look older since the age of 11)

    A German friend of mine told me that if you work in Germany as a sexworker you don't need to register yourself nor to fill in a tax declaration. If you work in an FKK you have to pay 25 EUR tax and that's all but to be able to get a loan you need a tax declaration. However, not so many sexworkers do that. (By the way as far as I know it's similar to the taxation of waiters)


  6. Ivonn Says:

    I have one questin: I always read in anti-prostitution articles that some pimps get false IDs so the minors can work in these windows. Can it be true? How serious is this ID checking?


  7. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Ivonn
    The checking is very serious. But let me put it like this. The police checks us at least 2 times a years for all our papers, besides that the city government's their own prostitution inspectors check us like 3 times a year, and the Dutch IRS comes to check us.
    In all these years, NEVER has anyone EVER found one single minor working behind these windows. They've found victims of trafficking, they've found girls who were forced, they've found girls giving away their money to their 'boyfriends', but never did they ever find one single minor.
    And that's also very logical, since you have to first register yourself at the Chambers of Commerse, and you have to be at least 18 to do that. That's they government their own device to register business owners, and they can therefor also access all your documentation.
    Working with a fake ID might work for a brothel owner, but at the Chambers of Commerse your ID wouldn't correspond with your ID number, since they wouldn't be able to find it in their system.

    In other words, there's simply no way you'll ever find a minor behind these windows, I can vouch for that.


  8. Ivonn Says:

    Wow, thank you for your answer. Your blog is VERY useful as sometimes I have to argue with those in the rescue-industry and they usually come up with the Netherlands which I don't know so well.
    Btw there is a new movie (Swiss-Hungarian coproduction) about girls working on the street in Switzerland. I know you work in the Netherlands but it might be worth to watch it. I haven't seen it yet but I feel the same from the trailer and the critics what you've written about: they try to prevent girls from working there (because they will get pimps) but nobody ever mention that maybe the government should help so that girls don't have to rely on suspicious people.
    I am also thinking about maybe translate some of your posts because you described a lot of things very well. Would you be OK with that? I know you can read also Hungarian so I would send you the translation before posting it.


Post a Comment

  • My photo

    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.