Communication between brothel owners and sex workers
Today the media reported that brothel owners have to be able to communicate with sex workers to ensure their safety. It was a decision made by the European Court of Justice, that the sex workers renting rooms from the brothel owners have to speak either Dutch or English.

Personally I don't know any girls that don't speak at least English. So for me, and all the girls I know, this isn't much of a big deal. I do know however there is a group of South-American women working around the Old Church, and those brothel operators speak perfectly good Spanish. I also know the brothel operator who started this court case against the city government, Jan Harmsen, spoke with most of the girls working there in German, since also many Eastern European women speak German in stead of English.

The media however presented it as if the brothel owner was completely unable to talk with the girls at all, which I highly doubt, since it would be impossible to do an intake interview, which is mandatory. But also how do you explain to girls how they can rent a room, how much they have to pay, what the rules are etc. if you can't communicate with them. So the only logical explanation is that he was able to talk with them, just not in English or Dutch but in German, meaning they left that part out to frame the brothel owner as 'the bad guy'. My guess is also that it's not the media themselves which wrote this article, but that it comes from the office of the mayor, who intentionally wants to frame brothel owners as bad people, in order to close down windows.

Basically this decision from the court comes down to restricting the languages only to Dutch or English, not allowing Spanish or German anymore, which before were still allowed. In short it comes down to down sizing brothel owners their market, making it more difficult for them to rent out windows, since now they are only allowed to rent them out to people who speak either Dutch or English, and not also German and Spanish like before.
Also I feel a bit like sex workers yet again are being made into an exception, since other industries with a high chance of trafficking are not obliged to speak only Dutch or English, but can allow anyone to work in their business.

In my own opinion I do think sex workers should be able to speak English at least. After all, many of our clients come from all over the world, so not being able to speak any English at all would make your work in the Red Light District nearby impossible. But It would also prevent a lot of fights between the customer and sex workers, due to a communication problem. I also think that perhaps the accusations of the girls not being able to talk any English are exaggerated, for sure they know some English, but I think they mainly communicated with their brothel owner in German.
But like I said, I also don't know any women that don't speak any English at all. But with some brothel owners it is already a rule that you need to speak English mandatory.

All in all, the articles in the media surrounding this court case seem to be very one sided, and incorrect. But I'm not surprised, since it was a court case against the city government, who are still trying to close down windows. And with the decision today of the mayor to run for a second term as mayor, I doubt he will keep true to his word to close down less windows. After all, he also promised us to write us a letter, which we still haven't received.

Dutch version
5 Responses
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  2. Yes I think sex workers in Australian Brothels ought to have the ability to communicate in English in any situation. Of course it's necessary, as most of the customers come from different places, If they don't have ability to talk in English at all would make work impossible.


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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.