Window prostitutes are business owners, treat them as such!
I am a self-employed business owner according to the Dutch law. In fact, every window prostitute is a self-employed business owner. All sex workers that work in the Red Light District have to register themselves as a self-employed business owner at the Chamber of Commerce, otherwise they won't even get a room from the brothel owners.
Our brothel operators are the people who rent out places as workplaces for prostitutes. Basically they are nothing more than a landlord. Just like a restaurant owner renting the place from the landlord, so are prostitutes renting their places from brothel owners.

Yet, we are not being treated as self-employed business owners by the government and the city of Amsterdam. We are being treated like employers to an employee, with the brothel owner functioning as our employee. For example: brothel owners have to do an intake interview with the prostitute before she can rent a workplace from them.
The brothel owner is required to to do this intake interview by the city government, which requires the brothel owner to test the sex worker if she's 'self sufficient' enough. The basic idea is to let the brothel owners find out if a girl is a victim or not. Sounds easy in practice, but in reality is not. After all, brothel owners aren't psychologists or people specialized in recognizing these things. They are not police offers nor where they ever trained to spot trafficking, they're just simply business people renting out workplaces, in this case to sex workers.

There is no other industry in the world, in which the building owner is required to do a full check on the person running it's company, to see if that person is not 'supposedly' a victim of something, or even having to dig into their private life. Yet, this is exactly what the city government demands brothel owners to do with the intake interview. In other industries however, the person who rents out business places is not responsible for the businesses that settle themselves there. Which building owner for example has to do an intake interview, to check if the business owner is 'self sufficient' enough? Which building owner has to check what the motives are for a business owner to start with their company, or even why they want to settle there? And in which other industry is this made mandatory by the government or city government to do an intake interview like this?

Exactly, there is no other industry in which a landlord has to check if a business owner is capable enough of running it's own business. There is however one situation in which people check if another person is capable of doing a certain job, and that's called a job interview. But a job interview is something you only would do in a employer-employee relationship. Yet sex workers in the Red Light District are self-employed business owners, and not employers of the brothels.
In fact, any other things that would imply an employer-employee relationship between the brothel and the prostitute, has been banned. For example. At my brothel, the owner is not allowed anymore to sell Red Bull to the sex workers, because it would imply a employer-employee relationship. Also selling water, condoms, sponges and kitchen paper is not allowed anymore because of this. Other brothels however are still allowed to sell these kind of things, which just proves how inconsistent these kind of things are.

The idea behind making sex workers behind the windows self-employed business owners, is to make sure they are independent, and not controlled by brothel owners. In short, so that brothel owners won't exploit of force prostitutes to work for them. Yet, the city government is constantly enforcing local laws onto brothel owners, forcing them to act like employers rather than business owners renting out workplaces to businesses.
The intake interview is just one of them. Another example is the use of bed sheets. In the past bed sheets used to be provided by the brothel owners. For sanitary reasons some sex workers brought towels with them, so they wouldn't have to work on the same bed sheet another sex worker had been working on. After a while the bed sheets disappeared, rules of the city government, so you had to bring your own. Than it was a rule you also had to bring your own towel, to use on top of the bed sheet. Now they made a new rule, that you need to have at least 5 bed sheets for one work day.

The logic behind these bed sheets is a complete mystery. After all, I don't lay directly onto my bed sheet, I'm already laying on a towel. So the bed sheet does not come into direct contact with me. Yet I need to bring each day 5 bed sheets with me to work, while I can still work on the same towel.
Yet, the towel is the place on which my actual work takes place, not the bed sheet which is under that. So why do I need to bring 5 bed sheets with me for 'sanitary reasons' as the Dutch health inspection describes it, while I'm still doing all my work of that day on the same towel? It doesn't make any sense, but brothel owners are responsible for making sure all the sex workers have at least 5 bed sheets with them for each working day. If not, they can loose their permit.

Now imagine for a second you have a beauty salon. You rent a place from someone who rents out workplaces, and start to work from there. Could you imagine the person renting out the workplace being responsible for the beauty salon following health and hygiene regulations? Can you imagine the person renting out this place, having to check on all the beauty salons he's renting his place out to, to check if they are changing the towels after each costumer? Isn't that the job of the beauty salon, which is after all the business, and not the person simply renting out the workplace? Isn't forcing people who only rent out workplaces, to check and control self-employed business owners a way of forcing an employer-employee relationship onto them?

These are just some of the rules the city government enforces onto brothel owners to control sex workers. All of these rules are made because the city government wants to 'fight human trafficking and abuses in the sex industry'. Supposedly it's for our 'safety' and to make us 'self sufficient'. But in what way is bringing 5 bed sheets each day to work with me, helping to fight human trafficking? Are the bed sheets gonna scare pimps away? Am I supposed to use them to pretend to be a ghost and scare them away? In what way is this fighting trafficking? Or hygiene for that matter, since I'm not doing my job on these bed sheets, but on my own towels? And how is a brothel owner not being allowed to sell Red Bull anymore, helping the fight on trafficking? Are pimps somehow magically attracted to Red Bull?

These kind of rules force brothel owners to control us like we're their employers. While the whole point of making window prostitutes self-employed business owners, was so they would become more independent, and it wouldn't create a employer-employee relationship. The logic behind these rules are a complete mystery. Except if you are deliberately trying to make it difficult for brothel owners to follow your rules.
Because let's not forget that the mayor still wants to close down more windows. But the problem is, the current brothel owners don't want to sell their place. Which means there's only one way for the mayor to get these brothel owners out of these buildings, and that's by evicting them. But the only way he can evict brothel owners, is if brothel owners loose their permit. And to do that, they would need brothel owners not to follow the rules. Thus they are deliberately trying to make it more difficult for brothel owners, to be able to follow all of the insane rules they come up with, in hopes that they fuck up.

It's the only explanation I have for the complete contradictions between some of the rules they're making. Some rules supposedly would make the relationship between my brothel and me too much of a employer-employee relationship, while other rules completely forced brothel owners to act like our employers. But of course the problem is, if they would make rules for sex workers, they could never catch a brothel owner on violating the rules. Thus they impose the rules on the brothel owners, making them responsible for how sex workers run their own business.

Dutch version
2 Responses
  1. Sounds like government inefficiency.

    Great blog! I stumbled upon it today.


  2. Sounds like government inefficiency.

    Great blog! I stumbled upon it today.


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.