During the city council meeting, Ariëlla Verheul from D66 Amsterdam, revealed that the chief and team-leader of the prostitution team of the police station that operates in the Red Light District, would rather see more window brothels to be re-opened than to be closed down. He expressed that he would rather be able to see if any abuses are occuring, rather than hiding those abuses. In short, also the police which has direct contact with the sex workers express the desire to re-open windows, for the safety of sex workers. Because, just like I already stated many times before, it's easier to fight crime and notice abuses happening when they happen in areas where the police can control it, rather than hiding the abuses happening in illegal prostitution by closing down safe workplaces.
City council member Ariëlla Verheul revealing what the police told her
Mayor Eberhard van der Laan later during the meeting expressed that the opinion of the chief of police is the same as his. I think this is a perfect example of how high places people have no idea of what's happening on the work floor. Apparently the chief of police has no idea that his own police officers, which work on a daily base with sex workers in the Red Light District, are loosing possible victims out of sight when they close down those window brothels.
The idea that it's better to tuck things away, rather than facing reality and acting on it, seems to be a hard reality for high placed people to understand. But of course it's only logical. After all, how can you fight a crime you can't see, because it's happening somewhere where you have no control or supervision over? It's much easier fighting crime that's happening in an area you can control and have supervision over, so you can also help the victims of those crimes.
Mayor Van der Laan expressed to me, but also again during the meeting, that according to his information the number of women that are left without a workplace due to the closure of window brothels, is very low. I have no idea where mr. Van der Laan gets his information, but if it's the same source that claims closing down windows would fight human trafficking, I'd have some serious concerns about those.
Because first of all, the problem is that nobody knows where these women ended up that were working behind those windows. This even got confirmed to me by Dennis Boutkan, from the same political party as the mayor. So how come that all of the sudden now the mayor claims to know what happened to these women? Did he receive new information that wasn't shared? Or is he just bluffing his way out of it?
The mayor of Amsterdam claims to know he knows what happened to the women
Because one other thing that got clear during the meeting, was the increase of illegal home prostitution. Women working from their own houses as sex workers. Officially that's illegal in Amsterdam. The mayor didn't want to conclude this was a direct result of the closure of window brothels, but he could also not explain why there was an increase in home prostitution, since he had difficulties to find out where exactly these things were happening and who they are.
In short, exactly the thing I warned about. Sex workers working illegal, with no supervision from authorities, increasing the chances on human trafficking. And not just home prostitution seems to be a problem. During the city center council meeting in September, regarding Project 1012, it was reported by Elise Moeskops from D66 that there was again an increase of street prostitution in the area of both 1011 and 1012. That is remarkable, since street prostitution was virtually non-existent in recent years, but now apparently has returned. Also one of the local residents who walked with the protest of sex workers last Thursday, expresses in an interview with the media, that she has seen an increase of street prostitution on the Oudekerskplein, which is in the Red Light District, something she hadn't seen in years.
So, on one hand we have a mayor that claims to know what happened to the women that lost their workplace behind the windows, even though his own party members claim not to have any idea about that. In fact, I spoke with the people from the Projectbureau 1012, which is the organization which executes project 1012, and not even they could tell me what happened to these women.
And on the other hand we receive all sorts of signals from local residents, spotting an increase in illegal prostitution on the street, near the Red Light District. And the mayor even admits there's an increase of illegal home prostitution, even though he has no idea why. But still the mayor claims that very few women don't have a place to work anymore?
Well, that could be true. Indeed perhaps they now do have a place to work, though illegal that is. After all, those women working on the street do have a place to work on the street now, however that doesn't mean that this is legal or a an improvement. And I'm also pretty sure that would not be an improvement over a window brothel, which not only provides safety and more hygiene, but also offers a roof over their head. But I doubt that the mayor knows this. After all, his source at the police states the opposite of the policemen and women that are on the street every day talking with the sex workers themselves.
The mayor told me he would write me a letter, and I'm eagerly awaiting his letter. Though I do hope that he can explain me in this letter, how exactly my position as a sex worker would be improved, if I loose my window brothel? And perhaps he can also tell me what his sources tell him about what happened to all those women that lost their legal workplace. After all, we're talking about 117 window brothels, roughly 300 women. Where are they now?
And perhaps he can also tell me why the team-leader of the police working in the Red Light District contradicts the opinion of the chief of police about the closure of windows? And perhaps he can also explain my why I know so many women that go every night from one brothel to the next, to find a workplace, if he claims that there are so few of them? To make it very simple, I handed him a petition signed by 414 sex workers from the Red Light District, while there are only 290 workplaces for them there. It doesn't take a scientist to find out that 414 women don't fit in 290 windows.
Does the mayor agree with me, that safety of humans is more important than any financial aspect? And does the mayor agree with me, that if indeed the team-leader of police states that safety of sex workers is not improved by closing down brothels, but by re-opening brothels, that it would be unwise not to follow his advise for the safety of sex workers? What is more important to the mayor? The money he will loose by quitting the project to close down more windows, or the safety and lives of sex workers? If it's the safety of sex workers, I would suggest the mayor to follow the advise of those who know best, the sex workers themselves and the local police, who have both expressed the position of sex workers is endangered by closing down window brothels. So, what's more important to you, mr. Van der Laan, the safety of sex workers or the money?