Triodos Bank refuses PROUD but accepts brothel
So today the mayor of Amsterdam announced they found an interested party to invest in the 'city brothel'. The 19 windows the city of Amsterdam has offered for 'self exploitation' of sex workers, called Project Own Window, allowing sex workers to set up their own corporation to run their own brothel, has gotten one step closer. The idea is that this corporation of sex workers will rent the buildings from this interested party to rent out window brothels to sex workers. According to mayor Van der Laan it's a 'big party' that's interested in owning the buildings to rent out to the possible corporation of sex workers.

Project Own Window in reality however, is nothing more than a distraction from the mayor's true goal: Project 1012, to close down 94 more windows in the Red Light District. In past years 117 windows have been closed down already as part of this project, and still 94 more windows are scheduled to close down. But criticism on this project has been growing ever since the start of this project, which was sold to the general public as a 'crime fighting project', claiming to fight human trafficking and forced prostitution, while in reality just kicking sex workers out on the streets without compensation or alternatives for their only legal and safe workplaces.

To stop the criticism on this project, which in reality is nothing more than a gentrification project involving real estate deals, they started Project Own Window, to distract the public from the remaining 94 windows they still want to close down. Sex workers however have no taken the bait, and went in huge numbers (more than 200 sex workers) onto the streets to demonstrate against Project 1012 to hand the mayor a petition signed by 414 sex workers, while the interest in Project Own Window from sex workers was very small (no more than 20 sex workers showed up in two meetings). And this is because sex workers know that 19 new windows cannot be used as leverage for the 117 windows that have already been closed down, or the 94 windows they mayor still wants to close down.
The mayor claimed after the protest to close down less windows, claiming the 'war is over'. What he however does not understand is the fact that we don't want lesser windows to close down, after all, he already took away the workplace of 250 sex workers, we want him to quit completely and we demand the windows back that were taking from us. It was only a couple of weeks later that the mayor closed down 18 more windows outside of the scheduled 94 windows, causing another protest from sex workers, proving how much his words were worth: nothing.

But the real interesting news today was the fact that the Triodos Bank, which earlier refused PROUD a bank account, is open to accept this future corporation of sex workers if they would like to open up a bank account with them. PROUD, the Dutch union of sex workers, consist out of a group of (ex)sex workers fighting for the rights of all sex workers in Holland. PROUD earlier got refused a bank account at Triodos Bank, because PROUD supports all sex workers, including those working in the porn industry. Triodos however claimed that they don't support the porn industry, because according to them 'many people are being exploited and abused in the porn industry'.

Funny thing is of course, that the point of having a union, is to fight exploitation and abuse, as is exactly what one of the things is what PROUD wants to do and stands for. After all, PROUD wants to improve the situation of all sex workers in Holland, and nobody's position is being improved with exploitation and abuse, so obviously PROUD is also against this. So why refuse a customer who has the same goals?
And also looking at Triodos bank their own criteria for accepting or refusing a customer, raises some serious questions to their refusal of PROUD as a client. After all, in their own criteria they write they don't accept organisations, people and businesses that produce or exploit pornography. But PROUD does neither. In fact, PROUD wants to improve the position of these people, thus fighting exploitation and abuse. But it even becomes funnier when you read that Triodos wants to 'support projects and initiatives that help people in society to develop themselves to be free citizens', as their own statement reads. Something you might say is exactly the point of having a union like PROUD,. And even funnier things became when people found out that Triodos Bank themselves invest in companies that produce and exploit porn.

But now all of the sudden a future corporation of sex workers is allowed to open up a bank account, while a union that fights for these people their rights is not. The Triodos bank defends this decision by claiming that a brothel is not porn related, which is of course true, but than why do they invest themselves in a company that produces porn. And wasn't the whole point of refusing PROUD a bank account, because Triodos does not want to be related to an industry in which a lot of people are being exploited and abused, as they stated? Than how come they can accept the prostitution industry, but not the porn industry? Are they claiming now that the prostitution industry is exploitation and abuse free, while the porn industry is not?
The Triodos bank responds to this with the answer that Triodos bank has no problem with people exploiting their own body, like prostitutes opening up their own bank account. But wait a second?! Isn't that exactly what PROUD is, sex workers themselves exploiting their own body who want to open up a bank account? Than what's the difference?

So how come that one group of prostitutes get refused a bank account, while another doesn't? Just because PROUD stands up for a larger group of sex workers, including people working in the porn industry? An industry Triodos themselves also invest in? And where the fuck does this nonsense argument come from that a lot of people would be exploited in the porn industry? We know this happens in the prostitution industry, although people are still arguing about the size of it. But since when is exploitation and abuse occurring on such a large scale in the porn industry, that it's reason to refuse people from this industry? And if that would be so, than why do they themselves invest in it?
And it's also weird. Triodos refuses bank accounts to people from the porn industry, because of alleged exploitation and abuse in that industry. But an industry which is constantly being accused of having a lot to do with exploitation and abuse is all of the sudden not a problem?
And why? Because this corporation is only about people exploiting their own body? Then what the hell is PROUD? Are they claiming that people in PROUD aren't only exploiting their own body? Are they claiming PROUD is exploiting other people? PROUD consists out of only sex workers and ex-sex workers, no other people are allowed to be member!

No, what's really going on of course is something else. PROUD was never refused a bank account because they are related to the porn industry. Triodos refused PROUD because they didn't want to be affiliated with the sex industry at all. But since they only wrote in their acceptance criteria about the porn industry, an not the prostitution industry, this was the only thing Triodos could pin the refusal of PROUD upon. And thus Triodos came up with a bullshit story, that they refused PROUD because they were related to the porn industry, and that according to them many people would be exploited in the porn industry. A very weak story of course, since everybody knows this is bullshit, but it was the only legit reason they could pin it on.

What they however never expected, was that it would become such a big thing in the media, and so many of their customers would be so upset about refusing PROUD. They burned their fingers on this, and are now trying to safe their face. And of course the insurance of a big politician, like the mayor of Amsterdam, has convinced them this will safe their face. Which again also proves the mayor can change the minds of banks if he wants to, which makes me wonder why still so many banks are refusing sex workers, except when the mayor needs something to succeed on his own account.
After all, the mayor has been claiming for years already to be working on the acceptance of sex workers at banks and improving the position of sex workers. Nothing however has changed in all those years, and many sex workers are still being refused at many banks. But now all of the sudden, when the mayor needs something to succeed for himself, he can arrange a bank to accept sex workers, that only months before still refused them. How come he didn't do this before also with other banks, if he has been claiming for years already to work on sex workers being accepted at banks?

Two things have become very clear on this matter. Triodos refused PROUD as customer, because they didn't want to be affiliated with the sex industry, and pinned it on a weak excuse of porn and exploitation, of which everyone knows this is bullshit. And so they are now trying to safe their face.
And the mayor of Amsterdam could have changed the minds of banks a long time ago, like he's been promising for years, but only does it when it is convenient for him, showing he really doesn't give a shit about sex workers, but only on his own projects to succeed.
We all know this Project Own Window is nothing but an diversion from the closure of more windows. We know the mayor doesn't really give a shit about sex workers. After all, he's been kicking out sex workers on the street since 2008, he's asked the Minister of Justice and Safety to violate our privacy rights knowing this is illegal, he still wants to continue with closing down more windows, and in fact even has closed down more windows than he promised, and now he all of the sudden can arrange a bank account for sex workers, while he has been claiming to be working on this for years already.

Dutch version
The prostitution entry program
All these women want to work, but how do you get in?
We have a lot of exit programs for sex workers these days, but nobody's ever thought about a entry program for prostitution. Which is really weird, since with an entry program for prostitution you can achieve much more than with an exit program. After all, an exit program doesn't fight human trafficking itself, it just helps people that have already become a victim, so it's already happened. It's sort of mopping up the floor, while the water tap is still running. It doesn't create one less victim, it doesn't stop trafficking and it certainly doesn't prevent it.

The minister of Justice and Safety also claimed that sex workers need exit program because of the stigma (or taboo as he called it) on sex work, but the exit program doesn't fight the stigma itself, it only helps women exiting this industry deal with the stigma, while leaving the women who want to keep working in this industry with no help at all. In short, the exit program doesn't solve human trafficking or the stigma sex workers face. It helps a little bit with both, but it doesn't target the sources, meaning it never really does anything to change the situation. It doesn't stop trafficking, it doesn't prevent it, and it doesn't stop the stigma or prevent that either.

An entry program for prostitution however can achieve much more. After all, the entry point is where human trafficking first begins in prostitution, and thus the most logical place to attack it. So, in stead of mopping up the floor with an exit program with the water tap still running, we're gonna turn down the water tap, making sure human trafficking is being prevented before it ever takes place.
Because when dealing with crimes you can do two things. You can try to fight it, but than it's already too late, since it already happened. Or you can try to prevent them from ever happening, in which case you only need to mop up the water that spilled, making it much easier to get that floor dry and clean.

So in order to prevent human trafficking, we need to attack the source. And fact is that the source of most human trafficking cases, is the vulnerability of sex workers. The more vulnerable a sex worker is, the easier it is for a trafficker to get control over her and exploit her for money. So the question is: how do we make sex workers less vulnerable? How do we prevent women from falling into the hands of traffickers? And to understand this, you first need to understand the reasons why women got in touch with traffickers in the first place, and why they fall for their tricks, and what those tricks exactly are.

And this is where there's a huge misconception. Because most people believe that most victims are coerced into prostitution, while in reality this is only a small portion of the trafficking victims. This is a misconception brought forward by people and organisations who are either against prostitution itself, or because they benefit from telling these stories in one way or another. After all, if you can claim that most women didn't want to do a certain job because they were forced into it, you could claim that it shouldn't be legal, because nobody wants to do it. And this is exactly the claim they've been trying to make for years.

But reality is that victims of coercion are just a very small part of all the human trafficking cases that occur in the prostitution industry. In other words, most human trafficking cases that occur, are cases in which the sex worker herself agreed on working in prostitution, but after that gets stuck in a position in which she becomes exploited by traffickers. And this does not just come from my personal observations, but more importantly from attorneys specialized in human trafficking cases. They also claim that by far, the most cases they get, revolve around exploitation and not coercion. And this just confirmed my personal experiences. But more importantly, it also explains why victims often don't see themselves as victims, since they are not coerced into anything, which is how often the media portrays victims of trafficking. 

So a small portion of the victims is being coerced, while a much larger group is not being coerced, but simply being exploited, despite the fact that they choose themselves to do this job. Nobody is forcing these women to work in prostitution, in fact, they choose it to do themselves, often because it simply pays good money. So how do these women end up being exploited? Well, because entering the prostitution industry in Holland, especially coming from another country, is so difficult (because policy makers believe it helps to fight trafficking), so they require assistance, which is exactly the point where the traffickers come into the story.

These traffickers basically play the role of the helping hand. Acting almost as an unemployment agency, helping sex workers out with paperwork, travelling arrangements, finances and housing. Sometimes the victims don't know the traffickers are really interested in exploiting them and are being deceived, but interestingly more often the sex workers themselves agree with it.
And this sounds kind of strange to outsiders. After all, why would a sex worker agree with being exploited? Who would want that? Well, fact is that nobody wants that, but they don't have much of a choice, since there isn't an alternative. After all, there is no legal organisation in Holland which helps these women with the problems they're facing when entering the prostitution business. In fact, the Dutch law even made it illegal and punishable to help anyone cross a border that wants to become a sex worker, under the human trafficking law. Under article 273f 1.3 it states that being guilty of human trafficking is:

"The person who recruits, takes along or abducts another person with the intention to make that person available in another country to carry out sexual acts with another person in exchange for payment;"

This means that anyone helping a (future) prostitute, knowing she wants to work here in prostitution, is a criminal and a human trafficker. It doesn't state anything about being coerced or exploited, simply taking someone with you is enough to be labeled a criminal when it regards a (future) sex worker.

So, we have a problem. These women need help, because they need paperwork, they don't know where to get it, how to get it. They need travel arrangements. They need a place to live, which is even difficult for Dutch sex workers, let alone if you come from another country. They need financial help before things are set up (since banks refuse sex workers loans, mortgages and even business accounts), and they can finally start with their own business (sex workers behind the windows are independent business owners). So a lot of help is needed.
But since the Dutch government thought they would fight human trafficking better if they would make it more difficult to enter prostitution as a whole, with the assumption that no right minded woman would want to do this job, they created a huge problem. And this problem is right now being solved by human traffickers. After all, these women need help to get into the prostitution, where they want to work to make a lot of money. But nobody wants to help them, because they would be considered a criminal by the Dutch human trafficking law.

And this is where the traffickers come into play. They gladly take on the role of an unemployment agency, in exchange for a big cut of the salary of sex workers. The sex workers are glad that someone is helping them, and the traffickers demand for that a portion of their income. And since the sex workers don't receive any help from others or the government, they are willing to give these people a portion of their income, with as a result that the sex workers is agreeing on her own exploitation. Often these deals are for a large percentage of the income, usually a 50/50 deal, meaning the sex worker gets to keep 50% of her income, while the trafficker gets the other 50%. Now sometimes these percentages may vary, but this is the most used construction by traffickers. It's easier than having to force someone into doing a job they don't want to do, which creates a lot more work to keep someone under control. Plus the sex worker herself will never give you in as a trafficker, since the trafficker helped her, and not the police or the government,

Just a short note here, outside of the sex industry similar constructions exist, with people getting a percentage of what they earn for their work, and the another percentage going to someone else. These constructions are called unemployment agencies, and there are many in Holland, who legally take in a large cut of what a company pays to have someone working for them. But then all of the sudden it's legal, while in prostitution it's all of the sudden called human trafficking. Talking about using double standards! And this is simply because of the false assumption that prostitution is done something not by choice. So where the Dutch government sees these women as victims, the victims themselves do not see themselves that way. After all, they agreed on it themselves. And what else do you expect when you don't receive any help from anyone else?

And this is precisely where an entry program for prostitution would be not just very useful, but could be a powerful tool in the fight against human trafficking. The entry program for prostitution is supposed to help sex workers who want to enter the industry, and helps them doing this in a safe and legal way, thus avoiding shady people who are trying to take advantage of them and turning them into trafficking victims. But more importantly, it gives sex workers an alternative from having to agree on a deal with traffickers who are only interested in profiting from it, asking way too high prices and percentages.

The entry program should focus on giving out good information about how to safely enter the industry. It should provide good information about addresses where you have to go, papers you need to have, and where you can get these papers. It is not by accident that I wrote a while back a blog post on how to get started in window prostitution in Amsterdam. I did this after I kept getting e-mails from girls, mostly from Romania, asking how to get started. It's one of the biggest problems for women from Eastern Europe who want to do this job. There's no information!
But it's not just for women from Eastern Europe. I even got repeatedly e-mails from Dutch women, asking how to get started to work behind the windows. This only proves how difficult it is to get started, and how little information is out there!

Besides providing good information, the entry program should also offer help with finances, since often sex workers from abroad need an advance in their finances before they can finally start to make money. After all, there's a big difference in living standards between Eastern Europe and Holland. This has nothing to do with poverty, which for sure is also a reason for some women to enter this industry, but by far most of the Eastern European girls don't come here because of poverty, but simply because the huge difference in living standards. Where in Romania for example you'll get 250 euro paid for an avarage job, and you can live fine for that amount of money. In Holland this is ten times more. And thus also the prices are much higher in Holland than in Romania, making it extremely expensive for Eastern European girls to come and live here.
But this is also what attracts them. After all, the costs may be much higher over here, so is the salary of a sex worker, and much more than any other job. So it's very interesting for women from Eastern Europe to come to Holland, and do this job, since averagely they get 100 times more the salary here with this job, than they would get doing any other job in their home country.

And besides the financial part, the entry program should also help sex workers find a place to live, preferably on very short notice, so that sex workers won't have to accept help from traffickers for this who want to take advantage of them.
In short, the entry program for prostitution should play the role of an unemployment agency, just like how they do this in many other industries as well. An agency which helps foreign workers to come to this country, help them finding a place to live, giving them an advance so they have some money before they can go to work, and helping them with all the paperwork required. 
Basically this entry program would take over many of the tasks a lot of human traffickers do at this moment, but of course with the difference that they don't exploit these women, but help these women. In this way, we can take away the demand that sex workers have for help, which attract human traffickers, thus resulting in fewer women becoming a victim of these traffickers. And at the same time you're helping these women enter the industry in a safe and legal way, making sure they have all the information and resources available making them less vulnerable.

But now of course we are still stuck with one problem. After all, this entry program focuses on women that do want to entry the prostitution industry, but require help. So it would take a huge bite out of the trafficking victims which are being exploited right now in the sex industry. But, it doesn't directly deal with the (much smaller) group of trafficking victims which are coerced into prostitution. 
And that is indeed a valid point. However, if the amount of victims are being reduced heavily, targeting the largest vulnerable group of potential victims, it leaves a much smaller group of victims to target for the police. After all, the women that used to be exploited because they needed help for a large part don't exist anymore, leaving only the severe cases of coerced trafficking victims.

At this moment the police and other authorities are having huge difficulties to tell apart victims from non-victims in the sex industry. And this is because many of the women they see as victims, do not regard themselves as victims, since they choose to share a part of their income with the trafficker. While at the other hand there are also victims who are being coerced, and are in desperate need for help. But since these two different types of victims, the coerced ones and the exploited ones, look so much alike in behavior and circumstances, it's often difficult to tell for the police which is which, thus resulting in police reports with estimations that make no sense at all. They often think they're dealing with a victim of coercion, while in reality not dealing with a victim of coercion but with a sex worker that agreed on her own exploitation. For outsiders it's impossible to tell them apart, since they send out many of the same signals, while when asking an exploited sex worker if she's forced, she'll give you a very convincing answer that she's not. Which is not so weird, because she isn't being coerced.

But when the entry program for prostitution is in place, most of these exploited victims will disappear since they will be using the entry program, leaving only the heavy coerced victims. And since the contrast between coerced victims and free willing sex workers is so big, in behaviour and circumstances, it will become much easier to spot the victims. After all, the victims that were only being exploited before, have dropped out thanks to the entry program, leaving only the really severe cases of human trafficking, the coerced victims. And with less victims of exploitation to confuse them with coerced victims, it will become much easier for the police and authorities to spot these victims and help them.

The biggest problem however lies within the acceptance of sex work as work. After all, this entry program for prostitution could solve a huge portion of the human trafficking that exists in the prostitution industry. But it is because politicians and policy makers are reluctant to facilitate women entering this industry, that this problem still hasn't been solved. It is their moral opinions, which stands between accepting sex work as work, and providing good and safe way to do this, versus rejecting it and not solving the real problems of trafficking.
In one beat, we could cut human trafficking in half, taking out a large portion of the victims that are being exploited, by offering them an alternative besides having to give a portion of their salary in exchange for help. We could make it easier for the police to distinguish the difference between someone that's coerced or someone that's exploited, by preventing most of the exploitation, leaving only the coercion. But in that case politicians and policy makers would have to accept sex work as work and offer women a way into prostitution, and the real question is if they are willing to do that, in order to save lives.

So, the real question is: does the government rather want to keep buying more mops to clean the floor, or are they willing to turn down the water tap? Because in the end, the water will keep spilling over, as long as you don't close that tap, no matter how hard you mop the floor. But in the end it will never clean up until you stop the water tap. So are they prepared to set aside their judgement on sex work, to really fight human trafficking? Or are they gonna keep avoiding attacking the real problem, with fake solutions which doesn't help anyone? Sex workers need help, but not the help you'd expect, they want, but help to enter this industry, not just to exit it.

Dutch version
Tours & Guides
Every day hundreds of people are led past my workplace in the Red Light District. Groups ranging from 10 to even 50 people are being led by tour guides through the small streets, to take a look at the window brothels and the women that work there. Apparently it's big business, because it's not just one group, but day and night countless amount of groups are being led past our windows, day after day, with a tour guide explaining them things. They explain things about the history of the Red Light District, about the laws here in Holland, about our work and of course about us.

Unfortunately however not every tour guide is knowledgeable about the realities of the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Often I hear tour guides mentioning things which simply aren't true. For example they tell people that most, or sometimes even all, of the prostitutes are forced here. Or that organized crimes is running these brothels, using prostitution as a way to launder money. Some of these tour guides tell such complete bullshit, with all those tourists just believing it because the 'expert' it claiming it.
But fact is that most tour guides have no fucking clue what they're talking about. They're just repeating what they heard from others or from the media. Stories such as 'most women are forced here' or 'organized crime are running these brothels, or even 'money laundering is what keeps this business going', are all arguments the city government has used in the past to justify their gentrification project, to 'clean up' the Red Light District from 'organized crime', by kicking out sex workers on the street and closing down their only legal workplaces. And if you're wondering how many criminal organizations the city government has caught with this, well the answer is zero, nothing! It was just a lie they used so they could sell the buildings to companies with a lot of money.

Each day I see these groups wandering through the Red Light District, groups of 10, 20, 30 sometimes even 50 people(!), paying someone to tell absolute nonsense about us, while profiting from our existence. And while they're getting payed to tell bullshit about us, we get nothing from all of that money. But of course the worst thing is that these people are falsely informing hundreds of tourists a day, and there's little to nothing we as sex workers can do about it.
The groups are sometimes so large, that there's often not enough room for everyone, meaning they stand in front of our windows, blocking us from doing our job. They scare away the clients, who don't want to be seen by people going inside (especially not a large group of 50 people), because of the social stigma on clients of sex workers. And they make it impossible for us to make eye contact with our customers and to call them, making it impossible for us to do our job. Sometimes it's even the tour guide himself who's blocking us from doing our job. So while he's making money over our profession, he's blocking us from doing ours, plus he's telling bullshit about us. Thank's a lot!

Sometimes it also makes you feel like you're an animal in the zoo, with all those groups passing you. We don't mind people visiting the Red Light District, after all, it's part of our job. But when each day groups of 50 people are just coming to stare at you, and have no interest in you besides that, it starts to become annoying.
And it's not even the men that annoy us that much. After all, we understand that men like to see a beautiful sexy woman, it's only natural. No, the worst are the women, who are often without a complete lack of respect for us, stare at us, and make pictures of us. Some tour guides warn their groups before about taking pictures, but often they don't do anything about it when people take pictures, not showing a lot of respect for us. And from a man I can still understand why he would want to make a picture of a beautiful sexy woman, but a woman herself? What the hell does she need a picture of me for? She doesn't have a mirror at home to see how a woman looks like?

I don't mind the fact that they have tours being led around through the Red Light District, don't get me wrong. But the groups are getting too big, too much and are often being led around by people who lack any kind of respect for us or, despite the fact that we're the reason they have a job. And the worst part if that they're often talking complete bullshit about us and our job, because they simply lack the knowledge. They've never even talked with a single sex worker, they've never been inside, and they have no expertise whatsoever or any experience they're speaking from. They simply copy what they've read somewhere, or heard, without checking if it's actually true what they're talking about.
The groups are too big for the relatively small area and small alleys of the Red Light District, and too large for one tour guide to handle. And the tour guides also show a lack of respect towards us, by sometimes even blocking us from doing our jobs, by standing in front of us, and not acting when people are taking pictures of us.

There should be something like a permit. A permit for tour guides. Window brothels need permits, street artists need permits, so why not tour guides? After all, tour guides have a huge influence on how people think about the Red Light District, Amsterdam, sex work and more importantly, us! They influence the minds and opinions of hundreds of people each day by what they're telling them, and without the proper information, this could simply lead to a false image about a job which already suffers from a mostly false image which people have about it.
Without this permit it should be illegal to do any tours. And they should only allow a maximum amount of permits to tour guides, to ensure the area doesn't get overrun by tour groups like how it is right now. They should put a maximum on the amount of people a tour guide can lead around at a time. And they should do an exam about the Red Light District, the sex workers and the work itself, before being allowed to get a permit, to ensure that these people aren't going to tell complete bullshit like how some are doing right now.

Fortunately there are also some good tour guides. People who have knowledge about the area and the work, people who know what they are talking about. Probably the best place to take the tour, is from the PIC (Prostitution Information Center), run by former sex worker Mariska Majoor. Mariska is a former sex worker who used to work behind these windows, so she knows what she's talking about, and she knows the women that are currently working behind the windows. She's been running the PIC for more than 20 years in the heart of the Red Light District, and she's a personal good friend of mine. And more recently she founded the new Dutch union for sex workers, PROUD, of which I'm also a member.
And it's not because I'm friends with her that I'm saying this. It's simply because she's one of the few people who know the realities about the Red Light District, and personally knows the sex workers working here, that caused me to recommend her as a tour guide. And when you finally talk with people that truly understand your reality, with so few people around who know about it, it easily creates a bond.

Unfortunately however, there is no such thing as an exam or a permit for tour guides, and there are far too few people like Mariska Majoor who know about the realities of the Red Light District. And thus every idiot that wants to make some money, profiting from our existence and our job, is allowed to call him or herself a tour guide, and spout whatever nonsense they can about the Red Light District and the sex workers that work there. I have another word for profiting over the backs of people, while those people don't get anything in return for that, and that's called exploitation. Unfortunately there are many organisations and people who exploit us in this way, while telling bullshit about us. They lead people to believe things which are just incorrect, and they bring it home with them and talk with their friends about it, who in turn also believe it. And this is exactly how it comes there are so many bullshit stories out there about the Red Light District and sex workers in Amsterdam.

Mariska Majoor uses the income she generates from the tours she gives to run the PIC, to inform people correctly about the Red Light District and sex work in Holland. But at the PIC sex workers can also receive help if they have any problems with things, or can get information about their job, which makes it beneficial for both tourists and sex workers. Much more profitable than people who are just trying to profit from us, while talking bullshit, making our job more difficult and not giving us anything in return for it, just so they can make a lot of money for themselves.

Dutch version
Prostitutes occupy closed window brothels
Yesterday was another busy in the Red Light District, as a group of sex workers occupied a couple of window brothels in protest against the closure of their window brothels. The sex workers were protesting against the closure of 18 window brothels in Amsterdam's Red Light District, which were closed down yesterday. The brothels can be reopened again when the new brothel owner get his permit, but this will take between 2 to 6 months, meaning that in the mean time these women don't have a place to work anymore.

The window brothels were closed down by the mayor, because according to him 'serious abuses' were reported in these buildings, such as forced prostitution. What he doesn't mention however, is that these 'serious abuses' took place already a long time ago, and the brothel owner was not involved with these crimes. This is also the reason that the brothel owner was never even a suspect any of the cases. Other arguments, such the mayor mentions was 'bad administration', which is a direct result of the mayor trying to bury brothel owners in rules and regulations, in hopes that they will make mistakes.

Fact is that none of these women were involved in any of the things the brothel owner is being accused by, by the mayor. Above all, the mayor at first threatened to close down all of the 47 window brothels this brothel owner runs, but eventually decided to settle for 18 window brothels. But since the brothel owner isn't the owner of the buildings, this allows for a new brothel owner to take over the place. And so a new brothel owner is currently working on getting a permit, but this could take months, 2 months at least and perhaps much longer. Until that time, the women who used to work in these windows are left without a place to work.

The mayor arguments that there is enough place to work for these women, as there is plenty of place during the day. But like I wrote about in my last blogpost, during the day you can hardly make any money, since there are way less customers during the day. During the night all the windows are already rented out, so they can't find a place to work at those times. With no income, the mayor is forcing these women into financially difficult times, since their bills still need to be paid. These women have families, husbands, children, and they mostly depend on the income they generate from their work in sex work. No, this has nothing to do with pimps, these women are pure feminists, just like how most feminists would like to see it. The women are in control in these families, they work, they are the boss, and they provide for their families in stead of the men.

To stand up for these women, PROUD, the Dutch union of sex workers I am part of, has filed a court case against the mayor. After all, the mayor promised less windows to close down, but in stead of less windows, he's actually closing down now also windows which weren't planned with these 18 window brothels. These 18 window brothels were not in the area that was scheduled to close down, and these women only received word about the close a week before the closure.
But above all, the mayor claims to have taken in account the situation of these women, but this is absolute nonsense. Taking away their only place to work, how can you call that taking in account? Even if all the things the mayor said would be true, their situation will not improve, because now they don't have a place to work anymore. At best you could say that it's better to have a bad place than no place to work. After all, even in a bad workplace they would be able to make money and provide for themselves and their families, but without a workplace they simply can't.

And thus PROUD has demanded from the mayor to keep the workplaces open for these women, until the new owner gets his permit, allowing these women to work and to earn their living. Also PROUD demanded the women to be compensated for each day they are not able to work there. Of course the mayor will try to shove this responsibility into the shoes of the brothel owner, but it was not his choice to do it this way, the mayor forced him to give up his windows. These women liked where they were working, and they don't want to loose their work spaces, because the mayor thinks it's better for them. A perfect example of how the mayor is not listening to the women, and is not acting in their interest, but in his own.

So yesterday a portion of the sex workers that worked in these 18 windows, were able to enter their workplaces after they were finished working, and occupy three window brothels. The occupation lasted the whole day, as a statement to the mayor and to get some attention for their cause: the loss of their workplaces. Some of the people from PROUD, including myself, were there to support them and after working the whole night, plus a day of protesting without any sleep, most girls felt pretty tired, and thus at the end of the day the occupation ended. Hopefully it gained their cause some attention though, and the mayor will realize that his actions will no longer go without consequences. And hopefully these girls will soon be able to go back to work again, and won't have to wait for months before having an income again, so they can support themselves as well as their families.

Some videos from the occupation:



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.