My Red Light (My Red Light), the first brothel in the world managed by prostitutes, opened in 2017 in the Red Light District of Amsterdam, and does not come out afloat. The City Council provided a property to the cooperative formed for that purpose, but the place must comply with the rules of the rest of the sector, and has debts, has recorded four possible episodes of human trafficking -one of the crimes that were thought to combat- and is not well managed. So says a report commissioned by the mayor, Femke Halsema, of the environmentalist party.
Corinne Dettmeijer, expert in illegal trade in human beings and sexual violence, and author of the study, goes so far as to affirm that the Consistory "should never have embarked on this adventure". However, "now that it is underway, it has to become more involved in the management of My Red Light, if it wants to reinforce the position of the sex workers. Although this supposes that the Town Hall can seem the owner of a brothel; the other option is closure, "he says. On the other hand, praises "the personalized attention and the excellent state of the facilities, in addition to the presence of a former prostitute trained for management ".
Eberhard van der Laan, the previous mayor, thought that leaving the brothel where they work to the prostitutes would reinforce their security and prevent the presence of pimps. However, "the ambitions were too great, and the idea was not realistic from the beginning," says Dettmeijer. "On the other hand, you can not change this world in a year and a half. Maybe little by little. We must lower expectations and resort to state support. I'm not saying that there is more control, but a greater municipal presence. Maybe in two years my recommendation will not work either, but you have to try, "he adds.
Justine le Clercq, artist, writer and spokesperson for My Red Light, said shortly after the opening that they hoped it would serve "to emancipate and empower women (also transsexuals and men) who voluntarily practice prostitution." And there lies, in part, the apparent setback of the project. The report itself indicates that the Consistory wanted the cooperative to become a management model, open to improvements in a conflictive sector. "But it's an experiment and we need help. The report seems good, because it recommends a better collaboration between the organization and the City Council. The executive directors now do a good job in financial management, and the researcher also indicates that there is good contact with the bank [Rabobank, uno de los colaboradores]. The expectations of both sides were not realistic, "says Lyle Muns, a sex worker and board member overseer of the brothel.
My Red Light now has between 14 and 20 workers, and is presented on its website as "the first group where they have joined to rent the rooms independently." When they collided with municipal regulations, which prevents searching for customers through the Internet or Facebook [puesto que el edificio está en la calle y sus 14 ventanas son visibles] They were filled with debts. The rooms remained empty during the day, and there were only night visitors, so maintenance costs exceeded revenues. "That was a blow at the beginning. In the morning there is little demand due to tourists, in The Red Light District", Emphasizes Muns. Although the City wanted to prevent the exploitation of the property by outsiders, it did not change the rules. In 2018, Le Clercq regretted that they treated them as if they were a sex business similar to the rest of those located in the Red Light District.
The search for prostitutes was another problem. At least four of the first eight candidates did not pass the police screening because they had a criminal record. And the agents complained about the frequent calls for help from the cooperative, which lacks private security guards at the door. But the greatest danger has been the people trafficking. According to police sources, at least four of the people who offered their services there could be victims, and they were not informed in time. This delay cost him a fine of 25,000 euros to the collective. "When we are among the few we have denounced. No one wants sanctions, but our priority is the safety of prostitutes and the relationship with the police has improved, "says Lyle Muns. Mayor Halsema will take a decision on the future of the sexual cooperative in the coming months.