Sex workers to run brothels in Amsterdam
Yesterday it got announced that the city of Amsterdam is going to investigate the possibilities of a brothel run by sex workers themselves. They currently have 19 windows, spread over 5 buildings available for the sex workers to run their own brothel. I am very positive about this idea, but there are some things I'm still very concerned about.

First of all, the fact that 19 windows have been made available, does not mean the city is going to stop with closing down large parts of the Red Light District. Project 1012 scheduled 208 windows to close down, so far 115 have been closed down already. This means there are still 93 windows scheduled for closure. The plan of the city government is to close down all the windows around the Old Church and the small alleys, leaving only the canals and some side streets of those left for sex workers. Almost like a Disneyland version of what the Red Light District once used to be.
Last January they closed down 6 windows in the Bethlehemsteeg. Since January the brothel owners got a new permit, most not longer than 2017, but for brothel owner of 8 windows in the Goldbergersteeg for example, they only got a permit until September of this year.
This means that in the coming year(s) a lot more brothels are going to be closed down, and giving back 19 windows simply doesn't compensate for the loss of in total 208 workplaces.

Secondly, the articles in the media get presented as an alternative way for sex workers to work without a pimp. In an article for example from De Telegraaf, it states that "now sex workers rent a workplace form a brothel owner, and for safety and other practical things prostitutes often have a pimp". Subsequently they also write that by starting a brothel run by sex workers themselves "women get the chance to work without a pimp". This is absolute bullshit!
Girls in the Red Light District don't need a pimp for 'safety or other practical things', that's an absolute lie! After all, we already have the police to protect us, thanks to the legalization of sex work in Holland. Beyond that, window prostitution is the most independent form of sex work. Besides a window to work behind and protection, you don't need anything or anyone else. That's all you need!
The pimps as we see them in other countries, or other forms of prostitution are there usually to protect the girls, or to arrange clients. But since the Red Light District already attracts clients itself, you don't need a pimp for that. The negotiation between the client and the sex worker happens without the use of a pimp. Also safety has been taken care of by the police, we even have an alarm button in every workplace, that the girls can push in case of emergency.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming here that all girls are pimp free, unfortunately. But certainly not most have a pimp. Some have a pimp. Some of those pimps force girls into this job, other pimps help immigrating sex workers come to Holland and set up their life and their own company over here. Of course for a high price, which is why they call it exploitation, and it's illegal, because the law states that taking someone across the border with you with the intention of that person becoming a sex worker is human trafficking (law 273f 1.3).
But girls don't need pimps for protection, and the reasons for needing a pimp also won't change if sex workers run a brothel themselves. In fact, one might even argue that anyone working for that brothel run by sex workers, like for example extra security because the police isn't always available, would certainly be called a pimp.

The whole idea of course about stating things like this, that many girls would have pimps but with their own brothel this would magically disappear, is so they can make the other brothels look bad except for their own initiative. After all, they still do want to close down 93 more windows, so they have to come up with some reason why they would want to open up a new brothel, while still closing brothels on the other side. The only thing that could justify this, is if they claimed that there's many things wrong with the current brothels, and their own brothel would be immune to this.
Of course, in reality this is bullshit. Just because sex workers run their own brothel, doesn't mean they can't become a victim of trafficking. After all, trafficking has little to do with the brothels they work in, and who runs those brothels, but more to deal with the fact that they need traffickers to get to Holland in the first place. In short, immigration problems for sex workers cause a lot of trafficking, not who runs the brothels.

I think it's a very good idea that the city offers sex workers themselves to run their own brothels, and set up their own rules. But it doesn't stop human trafficking, and it also doesn't stop the closure of workplaces by that very same city government.
The sex work organisation I am part of, PROUD, has supported this initiative, just like I support it. Though with skepticism, since the very same city that offers sex workers a place of their own, is also taking many more places away from those very same sex workers. The 19 windows offered now is a nice beginning, but nothing more than that. The city of Amsterdam would have to compensate us a lot more than just with 19 windows. Best thing would be to stop with the closure of window brothels entirely, and allow to offer the remaining 96 windows they already closed to the sex workers so they can set up their own brothel in it.

This offer of 19 windows is nice, but I fear it's nothing more than a small investment for the city, to claim that they've listened to sex workers, and simply continue closing down the remaining 93 windows scheduled for closure. If the city of Amsterdam really wants to help sex workers, they would also offer those 93 other windows for sex workers to run their own brothel in, and immediately abandon any further plans to close down more windows. The 19 windows don't compensate for the 115 we have lost thus far.

Here's a video that displays the buildings that are being offered as brothels to sex workers, along with some other stuff not related to this. As you can see they're still working on the brothels as we speak.


Dutch version
3 Responses
  1. Cliente X Says:

    "Girls in the Red Light District don't need a pimp for 'safety or other practical things', that's an absolute lie! After all, we already have the police to protect us"

    ...
    I understand...


  2. Yes I might be agree with you that the negotiation between the client and the sex worker happens without the use of a pimp. We need an alarm button for the safety of each girl


  3. Dorothy Says:

    Such a nice blog and very nice you work and sharing this wonderful article about the brothel well done.
    brothel


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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.