NY Times twisting truth about Red Light District Amsterdam
A couple of days ago the NY Times posted an article and a video about the Red Light District of Amsterdam and the prostitution policy in The Netherlands. The video and the article gives an incorrect image about the Red Light District, as it also used only a very small portion of my one and a half hour interview with them, of which they only used the parts of me explaining how human trafficking works in reality.

Initially I was approached by them to do an interview, reluctantly I agreed, since this was the NY Times and they claimed they wanted to "show a different side". That turned out to be a lie, since they cut out all the positive things I've said during that one and a half hour, and the only thing they left in was about human trafficking. That is definitely not "showing a different side", in fact that's showing exactly the same thing that I oppose to. The interview was supposed to be about My Red Light, but none of the things I've said during that interview about My Red Light was ever used.

So let's start with the beginning of what's wrong with this, and that's a lot. The video states that after the legalization of prostitution in 2000, the Red Light District of Amsterdam was overrun by human trafficking. That's simply not true. First of all because the legalization of prostitution already took place in 1809 and not in 2000 as is stated in the video. I repeatedly stressed this fact, but somehow it got left out.

Secondly the Red Light District was NEVER overrun by human trafficking. This is simply not true. Yes, human trafficking does occur like in any other industry, but these are incidents. The explanation that is given by me in the video therefore also only applies to those situations where people have become victims of trafficking. Which certainly applies to my comment about helping victims of trafficking, and how these women should get help to enter the industry before they become a victim, because if you're starting to help these workers after they've started working, it's already too late, and they've already become victims. But I cannot stress this enough, that this only applies to those that need help with this and have nobody else to turn to, and therefore become a victim, which is only a small portion of the workers. The majority are not victims!

The video continues with my protest against the closure of prostitution windows in the Red Light District, saying I helped organized it. No, I didn't help organize it, I was the organizer. It was my idea, lots of people, including other sex workers weren't supportive of this idea and didn't think it could be done. I proved them wrong by organizing the largest demonstration of sex workers in the Netherlands ever!

The video also incorrectly states the response to that demonstration was My Red Light, and the article writes about how the protests led to 'regular meetings between the city and protesters'. This is bullshit. First of all, My Red Light was already announced in February of 2015 under the working title Project Own Window on nation wide TV. The demonstration came after this in April of 2015. So the project was never a response to a demonstration that had yet to take place. And I also was never invited after this demonstration by anyone to come and talk about anything. In fact, the mayor promised us a letter he never wrote. So none of this is true.

One of the interesting things someone from My Red Light says in the video, is that because of My Red Light sex workers don't have to hide anymore what profession they're doing. But this is simply not true. My Red Light hasn't de-stigmatized prostitution in The Netherlands, and the women that currently work there still hide it, because of the stigma on sex work. In fact, all the media outings of My Red Light thusfar, has only increased the stigma on sex work, by claiming that they're the only 'pimp free' brothel, furhter stigmatizing all the other sex workers as victims. And this was also what most of my interview was about, about how My Red Light has only further stigmatized sex workers as victims.

One of the people featuring in this video is also Jolanda de Boer, former public prosecutor on human trafficking in Amsterdam. She's a prostitution abolitionist who's already made a lot of false claims about prostitution in the Red Light District. She claims not every women is forced, but 'a lot of women are'. She fails to mention however what she calls 'a lot', because of course than she would have to admit that she handles only around 30 cases of human trafficking in prostitution in Amsterdam a year. And to give you guys some notion of scale, the Red Light District is only about 10% of the entire prostitution industry in Amsterdam, which is estimated to be around 4000 sex workers. And in the past 5 years(!), they have reported suspicions of human trafficking on an additional 7 sex workers in window prostitution in Amsterdam!!!!

The voice-over then incorrectly states that I would agree that 'some sex workers are connected to pimps, but that for many of them it's a necessary evil'. That's simply not true. I said some sex workers need help to get started in this work, and that's how some of them end up in the hands of pimps, but that many sex workers don't have a pimp. Most girls simply start working here without becoming a victim. Also because helping a sex worker is not a crime, as long as people don't exploit or coerce them. Just because you help a sex worker to get started, doesn't mean you're a pimp. And with pimp in this article I of course mean human trafficker, because the interviewer apparently doesn't know there's a difference between a pimp and a human trafficker.

Jolanda de Boer gets a say about why supposedly the sex workers initially involved with My Red Light where turned down. She mentions all sorts of serious crimes, such as money laundering, terrorism, drug dealing, fraud on a huge scale etc., none of which apply to the sex workers that where initially promised a position in My Red Light. So she makes it sound like there was a good reason to turn these people down, by mentioning all these serious crimes, but these sex workers didn't do any of those serious crimes.

Interestingly enough, the same background check they did on the sex workers that where turned down for My Red Light, also applies to existing brothel operators, and yet Jolanda de Boer and the city still claim these brothel operators are criminals or used to be criminals, even though they always passed the test to secure their license. And the only one time one brothel operator didn't at first passed the test, he sued the city for this, because he was falsely being accused of crimes he never committed and finally got his license renewed because the city lost the court case. In short, the explanation Jolanda de Boer just have in this video opposes the claims the city and Jolanda de Boer have made in the past about dirty money being involved in the Red Light District and how the Red Light District had 'criminal elements', and thus why it should have been gentrified.

Of course Jolanda de Boer, being the abolitionist, loves to question 'how many sex workers there would be in the Red Light District if there wouldn't be any pimps'. Well, the answer to that is quite simple Jolanda, just as many as there are right now. Because even though some are victims of trafficking, and occasionally it happens that one of these victims did not have the intention to start doing this job, fact is that more than 99% of the girls consciously chose to do this job, and there are plenty of other girls waiting to take over the window of others that do not want to work here.

The article further talks, like the video, about how Project 1012 would be focused on removing the criminal elements. I had an extensive talk about the fact that there where hardly any criminal elements in the Red Light District, which is also the reason why none of the brothel owners ever got their licenses revoked due to any criminal activities. Project 1012 has literally not removed any criminal elements at all, since they where hardly there to begin with. We have to thank for that, the strict screening Jolanda de Boer talks about in the video.

Furthermore the article also incorrectly states the fund behind My Red Light bought the buildings from the city, and thus all the ties between the brothel and the city are now cut. This is simply not true. In fact, my fiancé even send the journalist from the NY Times the official documents proving the city is still the owner of the property of My Red Light, and is official the owner of these brothels, and not the fund like how it's claimed in this article. So the the ties between the city and My Red Light was never cut!

Furthermore the article continues about the beautiful design of My Red Light. I also gave my opinion about this extensively during my interview. None of that was used however. Because the fact is, that the design is the biggest flaw of My Red Light. Window prostitution works because you draw the attention of people passing by with red lights in your room. My Red Light however has made all their rooms black with black tiles, resulting in the fact that all the rooms are extremely dark, and thus does not attract the attention of people passing by. It is the reason many sex workers tried My Red Light for a couple of days, before leaving those workplaces again. They simply don't make money there, because the rooms are too dark, and people can hardly see them.

I am extremely disappointed in this interview. The promises of what they said the interview would be about where never used. Of all the good things I said, all the criticism on Project 1012 and My Red Light, none of it was used. The only thing they used of my interview was my explanation about how human trafficking works in reality, in relation to how My Red Light doesn't solve this issue in any way, as opposed to how they claim.

This proves to me one more time that journalists are liars. I dare the NY Times to publish the full interview I did with them, uncut, so people can hear the real criticism and realities of the Red Light District, rather than this fake news article.
9 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Back in June, 3 journalists at CNN in the U.S. resigned under pressure because they reported a political story that turned out to be wrong. The story violated CNN's journalism standards.

    Want to report on sex work? There are no standards. No one ever got fired for writing a poorly sourced story, or editing their source's statements to get the slant they want. Authority is rarely treated critically. If the prosecutor, police officer, or social worker said it, it must be true. Ignore any obvious biases.

    Here in the U.S., if you type the name "Alika Kinan" into Google search, the first two links that come up are for a Wikipedia article, which says that Kinan spent 5 years working in 2 different brothels in southern Argentina, and an NPR article that says she was trapped in a brothel in southern Argentina for 20 years. The Wikipedia article cites about 60 different sources. The NPR story? It was basically sponsored by the U.S. State Dept., which has been a source of dubious information about sex work for at least 20 years. The reporter interviewed Kinan through 2 interpretors hired by the State Dept., got a couple of quotes from a State Dept. representative, slapped on a sensationalist headline, and she was done!

    And then we come to the New York Times...


  2. Anonymous Says:

    ... prostitution was legalised in 2000. The '1809' date you refer to was due to French occupancy, taken back in 1811. They were not incorrect in stating that it was legalised in 2000.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Felicia

    I read somewhere that the sex workers in RLD of Amsterdam have panic buttons near their bed for their safety... That is a good thing to have if in any case a wierd client comes in. So i was just curious to know that is there a proper security system in place for the safety of the girls like these panic buttons ? Are they present in each and every window of RLD ? Is it mandatory in every window ?

    Thanks in advance !!

    Note:I am just asking this because I have always been curious to know that what are the measures for the safety of these girls inside the room !!


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  5. Just legalize it in USA! The only regulation needed is basic criminal and contract law, that outlaws non-consensual interaction and fraud. No need for a registry of sex workers and a government bureau that people need to ask permission from to engage in the sex trade.

    Regulations just result in big hurdles being put up in the way of operating independently, and big companies standing in between the sex worker and the customer as the middle-man, collecting a fee. There are a lot of celebrieties in escort services - just pay 15-20$k and get a porn star (for example https://ladys.one/usa-boston )

    Just as social conservatives have no right to ban and control the sex trade because of "its effects on social mores", socialists have no right to ban and control Airbnb or Uber because of "its effects on the taxi industry" or "its effects on housing". People's right to freely contract with their body and property should never be compromised.


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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.