Do the math!
So after the big news that Amsterdam wants to offer sex workers 19 windows to start their own brothels, many people were happy about that. I am skeptical about it. After all, after the brothel ban was lifted in 2000 Amsterdam had about 510 prostitution windows, right now there are only 395 left of those, as a result of Project 1012.
The project 1012 that once had been sold to the audience to 'fight trafficking', by taking away safe and legal workplaces, had as a goal to close down 208 windows in total at the end of 2017. So far they've closed down 115 of them, which means we still have 93 windows to go. People that think Project 1012 is behind us just because the mayor has decided to re-open 19 brothels for sex workers themselves, are sadly mistaken. Project 1012 is still going, in fact, all the decisions have been made already, so there's almost no turning back anymore.

So even if we get 19 windows back, raising the total from 395 windows now, to 414 windows, they're still going to close down 93 more windows. This would bring the total down to 321 windows, less then there are now, and way less than the 510 that Amsterdam once used to have.
The mayor thinks sex workers won't notice this, if he'll give us 19 windows to shut us up, but he's forgetting one thing: we're good with calculation. After all, we all count our money each day, it's our job, so we have done the calculations for this, and we're still ending up in minus about this. So 19 windows is nice, but it isn't giving us back the 115 windows we've lost thus far, or the 93 windows that are still going to close down.

Another interesting thing that I've came across, was the claim that currently there would be 7000 prostitutes working in Amsterdam, of which 3500 behind the window. What the hell?!
I don't know where these people learned to calculate, but 395 windows aren't going to hold 3500 window prostitutes. This makes no sense at all. Looking at the night time, almost every window is full, meaning there are about 395 girls working in the night. In the day only about 25% of the windows are occupied, since you hardly make any money in the day time, so that's about 100 girls. So let's say that there are about 400 in the night, and 100 in the day, that's 500 girls in total working on a single day. That would mean that 3000 window prostitutes don't work?!
I'm no scientist, but even I know that this is very unlikely. But even if it would be true, giving back 19 windows ain't gonna hold enough place for 3000 prostitutes!

According to the city 19 windows will give place to 50 prostitutes. A weird thing, since there are only 19 windows, which you can only fill twice a day with girls. So 19 girls working in the day, and 19 girls in the night. That's in total 38 girls, and not 50. And that's even assuming that there are 19 girls that want to work in the day, which I doubt, since only 25% of the windows during the day are occupied. So I strongly doubt that they'll ever get to 50 girls.

But okay, let's say that there are about 50 girls that could work there. That would mean that in each window there can be 2,63 girls (19 windows divided by 50 girls). Using this method, this would mean that currently there are currently around 1039 girls working in Amsterdam (395 windows times 2,63 girls). When the new windows open there will be place for 50 more girls, bringing the total up to 1089 girls. Based on the 3500 window prostitutes that got mentioned, this still means almost 2500 girls don't have a place to work.
But wait! It get's better, because of course they're still going to close down 93 more windows (245 girls less), meaning we'll end up with 321 windows for 845 girls. This means that not 50 girls get a new place to work, but 195 more girls loose a place to work between now and 2017. Sure, 50 girls less loose a place to work, that's nice and all, but still 195 girls are going to loose their place to work, on top of the already 303 girls (115 windows have been closed down), that already lost their place to work. That while in 2000 there was still room for 1342 girls (based on 510 windows)!

In short, we've gone from 1342 girls, to only 845 girls left in 2017. Meaning 497 women lost their workplace between 2000 and 2017. That while there are 3500 window prostitutes according to the media in Amsterdam. So what has that improved?
You can give us 19 new windows mr. Van der Laan, but taking away the workplaces of almost 500 girls isn't going to be fixed with giving 50 girls a new place to work. And I haven't even talked about those 3500 that got mentioned in the media, of which apparently you only want 845 girls to have a place to work. Do you really want to kick out 2655 women in the streets?

Dutch version
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
Illegal prostitution or human trafficking?
So today there was something on the TV in Amsterdam at channel AT5 about the Red Light District. The show 'De Stelling van Amsterdam', was started with a statement on the website of AT5, which posed the question: "Visitors of the Red Light District should be warned for illegal prostitution".
They also send out a Tweet with that statement, and in response to that both my boyfriend and I tweeted some things about the illogical reasoning behind such a statement. After all, why would you warn people in an area with legal prostitution, about illegal prostitution? In an attempt to keep visitors coming back to the Red Light District and not to places where prostitution is not legal? If you want to warn people about illegal prostitution you should warn people at places where this is happening, not in a place where all prostitution is happening legal, like the Red Light District.
Once the TV show started however quickly things became clear. All of the sudden the statement was: "Visitors of the Red Light District should be warned about forced prostitution." And that's a very different statement, because of course illegal prostitution and forced prostitution are two completely different things. But apparently Amsterdam's own TV channel isn't even aware of this, and to make things even worse, they used a tweet of mine and my boyfriend and host of the show Waldy van Geenen claimed that 'these people still don't know about forced prostitution', and that therefore it was perhaps a good idea to warn visitors in the Red Light District about this. What the fuck? Yeah, like we wouldn't be aware of that! I think I know a little bit more about my own job and my own workplace than AT5 does!

The problem is of course that apparently AT5 doesn't even know the difference between illegal prostitution and legal prostitution, which kind of shows their ignorance about this subject. Yet, they want to have a debate about it, even though they don't even know basic things about prostitution, such as the difference between illegal prostitution and forced prostitution. So here's a lesson for dummies (read AT5) about the difference between illegal prostitution and forced prostitution.

Illegal prostitution
Illegal prostitution is prostitution happening without a permit, in places where it is required to have a permit. This is why it's called illegal prostitution, because prostitution that happens in places where it's not allowed is illegal. For example: prostitution in a hotel that does not have a permit for this. This is for example the case in a hotel in Utrecht, as a result of the fact that over 300 prostitutes lost their only legal workplace there.
Illegal prostitution is prostitution that is not allowed. It says nothing about the fact whether or not forced prostitution or exploitation is happening there. For example, there are many prostitutes that work in illegal prostitution without any problems. But, since it's illegal and therefore happening out of sight of the police, the chances that human trafficking is happening there, are a bit higher than in legal prostitution.
A good example of legal prostitution is the Red Light District. All prostitutes who work in the Red Light District work in legal prostitution. Even if they are forced or exploited, any victim of human trafficking in the Red Light District is still working in legal prostitution, even though they are a victim of something that is illegal.

Forced prostitution
Forced prostitution means someone is doing forced labor in the prostitution industry, nothing else nothing more. Obviously you can't call 'forced by economic circumstances' forced prostitution, for two very simple reasons:
1. Almost everyone is forced to work by economic circumstances, after all, we live in a capitalistic system. Without work you simply can't survive since everyone needs money to survive, and therefore by default everyone is forced to work by economic circumstances.
2. Forced prostitution is about being forced by another person, and since the economy is not a person, you can't call that forced prostitution. Forced by economic circumstances is also not punishable, since you can't punish the economy for forcing someone to work, this is simply called capitalism.

The mistake people, and also AT5 make, is to think that because forced prostitution is illegal, that this is called illegal prostitution. A laughable mistake for any TV channel to make, certainly one that wants to have a debate about prostitution itself!
Just because some crime might be happening in prostitution which is illegal, doesn't make the place where it happens illegal. The Red Light District in Amsterdam, every single window brothel and club has a permit, and is therefore legal prostitution. Therefore illegal prostitution doesn't happen here. But that doesn't mean of course that forced prostitution can't happen there.

I'm angry at the fact that AT5 used the Tweets of myself and my boyfriend to 'prove' that people would still be unaware of the fact the forced prostitution is happening. That's bullshit! Almost everyone knows this! You'd have to have lived in a cave for 50 years not to know about this. And by the way AT5, I am one of those ladies that complained to Mariska Majoor (who was in the show), about the fact that so many people come to ask us if 'I am really doing this job for myself or if I am perhaps forced by a pimp'.
In fact, like Mariska also explained, most people think we are all (or most of us) forced. The 'romantic image' people have about the Red Light District hasn't existed since the 90's anymore. People who claim these things, that there would still be people out there that have a 'romantic image about the Red Light District', are always people who are against prostitution. Everyone that works and knows even a little bit about prostitution, knows that such an image hasn't existed for years anymore. If ever there were people that believed that, that image was shattered when the case of Saban B. came out.
On an international level the image of the Red Light District has been shattered by so called 'rescue organisations' like for example Stop The Traffik and their stupid prostitution dance video, that misinform people on a grand scale about the size of human trafficking over here.

And now to answer the question about informing visitors about forced prostitution in the Red Light District. Is this really necessary? There is already a lot for the missery in prostitution. And do we warn people standing in a bank that sometimes banks get robbed? Do we warn people in the H&M and Primark that their clothes were made under forced labor and sometimes even by 12 year old kids? No!
Not every prostitute is forced. In fact, in the 5 years time working behind the windows myself, knowing most of the girls that work there in the night, I've never came across a single girl that was forced. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but it does prove that the chance of running into to one for a client is pretty small.
And yes, it's possible that clients might run into a girl that's forced. But than again, isn't it the police their job to look out for this, in stead of the clients? After all, the police walks all day long there, and clients only come once in a while at most. If a client comes across a girl that is forced than he should report it, absolutely. But I don't think scaring clients away with the idea that 'girls are forced behind the windows' is fair for all those girls I know that work there because they want to make money.
What's next? Going to demonstrate and flyer people about the fact that banks use people their money for fraud? Are we going to flyer at the C&A that some clothes are made by forced and child labor? Are we going inside the Jumbo to flyer that their bananas come from a country which sells bananas under the price that the government established, and therefore their bananas are illegal?

I went to demonstrate last weekend with Mariska Majoor and some other people of PROUD against the action of the ChristianUnie youth department to warn clients about 'forced prostitution'. They're only scaring clients away, with no results. After all, if clients stay away, there is nobody to report these things. And since the police is apparently not doing their job very good, who else is there to report these things? The girls themselves? Yeah, if only they could do it without the police throwing up barriers for victims to press charges.
Maybe I should go an demonstrate against Christians their constant attempts to undermine my work in a church, see how they like it. Or I'll flyer that 'The Vatican are a bunch of pedophiles', see how they like that? After all, I'm only informing them, right?
Maybe you should first ask the people that work there if you can do these kind of things in the area where they work. After all, did we ever asked people to demonstrate and flyer for us?

Update 2-2-2015 20:36: After I reported this to Waldy van Geenen they took out the video online to be uploaded without the tweets of me and my boyfriend at a later time. This post however remains the same, as it shows how uninformed people can create a false image about something without even knowing it, simply out of ignorance. Furthermore I think it's important to explain the difference between illegal prostitution and forced prostitution.

Dutch version
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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.