March 7, 2021

Amsterdam wants to end the spectacle of prostitution | Society

The Red District of Amsterdam, one of the most popular areas of the city, and where some 600 prostitutes operate in its famous shop windows, will change its appearance. The mayor, environmentalist Femke Halsema, presented on Wednesday for her discussion a multiple project with which she hopes to put an end to mass tourism that congests the neighborhood and combat illegal prostitution and human trafficking. Halsema believes that the Dutch capital is ready for a change of image that, if accepted, contemplates from draping the curtains of shop windows of prostitutes to avoid groups of onlookers to close all the brothels in the area and distribute them around the capital.

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands since 2000 and the mayor is pragmatic. "It was legalized because we think it is an opportunity for the woman who exercises it to be independent. It is a historical fact in the urban center, but it is analyzed from a moralizing point of view, or based on very polarized discussions. Speaking with the whole world and reaching a consensus is necessary, although the final decision belongs to the City Council. I encourage the debate, "Halsema told the local newspaper Het Parool.

Their plans are increasing in intensity and are the following: to pull the curtains of the windows so that the prostitutes are not a tourist claim, although they may also feel unprotected, an aspect to be taken into account; closing part of the buildings and their windows and opening them in other areas of the city so as not to have to compensate the owners of the property (the women rent their place there); expand the number of shop windows and brothels in the Red District, but keeping the curtains drawn; or close everything in the neighborhood and distribute windows and clubs around Amsterdam or maybe in the outskirts. A whole range for citizens to think.

According to the councilor, "the rights of prostitutes to work autonomously must be guaranteed, but in the Red District they have become an attraction and people laugh at them, insult them or photograph them without their permission. Then we have to fight human trafficking, fraud and money laundering and restore tranquility to the neighborhood. " In the union that groups the workers, Proud, the wide-ranging project has not worked well. "It does not empower women at all. They must make their own decisions and let them operate on their own. Everyone knows how to access the police or local authorities if something happens, it is not necessary to force them to ask for a license to have clients at home with the excuse of human trafficking, "says Foxxi Angel, the union spokesperson, who works with this first name. The Dutch law considers the prostitute a self-employed worker and each City Council decides whether or not to require a work permit; for brothels, it is obligatory.

The different models of Europe

• Allegality. Spain Italy. In Spain, prostitution is alegal, although there are municipal ordinances that prohibit it in some cities.

Abolitionism. Sweden passed a law in 1999 that penalized the purchase of sexual services. It imposes fines and even prison sentences on clients and pimps. It is the model that Norway or France have also adopted.

Legalist. Holland, Germany, Denmark. In the Netherlands, it has been regulated as a job since 2000. The law obliges the owners of brothels and clubs to pay Social Security and taxes from prostitutes. They have the right to collect unemployment and other benefits.

The group calculates that "of the nearly 600 workers in the neighborhood, 50% are from Central and Eastern Europe and the rest of Latin America; more or less, because there are very few native Dutch. "

The preferred proposal of the union would be a mixture of the published plans, but always respecting the independence of those who exercise escort (luxury or companions), or on their own, at home, who reject the licenses. "Leave the windows as they are and do not monitor the private homes with the excuse that there may be covert traffic of people. The problem is the mass tourism, but that is the fault of the Consistory, not women. The workers have always been there. Tourists are attracted to the city, which has campaigned for years to be attractive because it brings great benefits. That they regulate it better ", adds Foxxi Angel.

Police surveillance

Masten Stavast, architect and owner of the club Agapi (love, in Greek) that exploits 27 windows in the Red District, closing them or pulling his curtains seems "silly" to him.

"In the neighborhood there is a lot of police control and surveillance. Here does not fit the traffic of human beings. Unwind, the tourist does not come to Amsterdam just to see the Rijksmuseum. This is a very visited area and the customers of the girls are tourists. There may be congestion on Friday night and Saturday, between ten and eleven at night, but nothing more. The problem is that, since 2010, the Consistory has systematically closed the windows with the excuse of improving the living conditions of the workers, and in passing the local environment. They have disappeared between 120 and 150 windows, and what happens is that some groups of neighbors of the adjacent streets complain a lot and are listened to. We, the local business community, do not pay much attention to local authorities, "he says in a telephone conversation.

According to the information posted on the website of Agapi, the rent of a room costs the sex worker 100 euros during the day; At night they are 175 euros. The morning and afternoon shift is extended between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. The night begins at 20.00 and arrives until 05.00 in the morning. "In both, there is surveillance of the club staff to avoid undesirable customers or ill-treatment. In case of emergency, the worker can press an alarm. In extreme situations, the police are called. "

Amsterdam "is ready to think of a Red District without prostitution, if necessary," the mayor wanted to make clear. Next week, a first meeting between all the interested parties is planned, that is to say, workers, neighbors, owners of brothels and windows and the own Consistory, to analyze the plans. During the summer, a municipal messenger will meet with each of their representatives to find out what are the preferred proposals: one or two at the most. On them, evaluated and perhaps retouched, the final decision must be made.

The difficult recovery of the most famous neighborhood

Although prostitution is concentrated in the Red District of Amsterdam since the sixteenth century, the problems associated with the place date back to 1970, due to organized crime, trafficking in persons and heroin. For 1980, the image of the zone is very deteriorated, and the Consistory takes letters in the subject, but it can not contain the most serious crimes. The brothels are legalized in the year 2000, and between 2007 and 2018 the so-called Project 1012 is applied, which is the neighborhood's postal district. Buildings are improved, other types of businesses are opened and the number of windows in use for prostitutes is reduced. At the beginning of 2018, the municipal auditors conclude that "Project 1012 has allowed to better manage the use of windows, but it is not clear that it is effective against traffic". In October of that year, the new mayor, Femke Halsema, announced that she wants to collaborate with everyone so that "it is a safe and beautiful neighborhood".

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