Sex workers Amsterdam organize demonstration
The project that was once started by former alderman Lodewijk Asscher, with the excuse of fighting forced prostitution, in reality was nothing more than a gentrification project, involving millions of euro's and real estate deals. Politicians and city officials were paid off to sell valuable real estate to big companies for huge amounts of money, while selling the project to the audience as a crime fighting project.
So far Amsterdam's Red Light District has been reduced from 512 prostitution windows, to only 395 windows. And with the loss of 117 prostitution windows, the mayor of Amsterdam is set on closing down the other 94 windows as scheduled by the Project 1012, the workplace of approximately 250 sex workers.
The politicians in Amsterdam have always sold this project as a fight against organized crime, even though no criminal organizations were found. None of the accused brothel owners turned out to be criminals, and in fact didn't even have any criminal records or any kind. And in not one single case was it ever proven that even one sex workers that lost her workplace was forced, abused or exploited in any way. Acclaimed statistics of human trafficking in Amsterdam's Red Light District (50 to 90% was used for years by politicians), turned out to be based on hunches and not on actual research. While at the same time actual research done among sex workers themselves were put away as 'unreliable'.
Sex workers themselves have become victims. Not of the supposed organized crimes and traffickers that would be present in huge numbers, but of the city's policies, which forced them out of their only legally allowed workplaces with no compensation in return.
So far an estimated 300 women have lost their workplace, and many of them that were left without a legal workplace, turned to illegal prostitution to fill in the gap in their income. Others simply moved on to other countries with less safe workplaces, risking becoming a victim of a trafficker. Nobody from the city council of Amsterdam seemed to care, where these women ended up, that they cared so much about that they decided to close down their windows. How come that a city council who took such drastic measures to protect women, by closing down the only legal place to work they have, were all of the sudden not interested anymore what happened to those women afterwards?
Reality is that few women in the Red Light District were aware of what was going on. Many of the sex workers had seen windows closing down, but never understood why, since the city never explained their actions towards the sex workers themselves. In fact, the city seemed to be more interested in keeping sex workers in the dark about their plans. Why? Well, one could only guess, but my bet is that they didn't want sex workers to find out what really was going on, because that could cause a protest of sex workers themselves.
Most sex workers believed it was just brothel owners quitting with the brothels out of their own. Some didn't even know there were windows closing down at all. And perhaps things would have been the same for me, if I hadn't met my Dutch boyfriend who was of course very well aware of the things they were reported in the media. He explained to me, and showed me the claims that they were making about us. He made me see and hear things few of the other girls could see or hear, simply because they don't understand Dutch.
And ever since that day, I had one wish. The wish of a demonstration marsh against the closure of windows. Because reality is, that by far most sex workers choose to work here. They are not forced. They willingly choose to work here behind the windows, each for their own reasons. And fact is that they don't want to stop because other people have other plans, they want to stop when they decide to stop. Not because some money grabbing politicians want to make money on the selling of real estate to big companies. Not because other people don't like our jobs.
Sex workers from Amsterdam's Red Light District have the right to a safe workplace, and that's exactly the reason many of them came from other countries all the way to Amsterdam. Because here in Amsterdam the work is legal, it's safe, plus you can make a lot of money with all the tourists it attracts. They don't want to quit this job, because most of them aren't forced to do this work, they just want to make a lot of money.
That is why on the 9th of April there will be a demonstration held by PROUD, the union of sex workers in Holland, against the closures of windows. The demonstration is a pet project and a long time wish of mine, to show the people that most of us aren't forced at all, but we choose to do this job by ourselves. To show that we do not agree with these closures, and it certainly doesn't help the victims of trafficking and forced prostitution. Claims that were mostly based on false statistics and gut feelings.
I will also be handing over a petition to the mayor, signed by sex workers, pleading the mayor and the city council to stop this monstrous project, to take away more legal workplaces, and call for a re-opening of former window brothels. The petition that is signed is supporting the demonstration, as well as the list of demands PROUD has set up to the mayor and the city council.
On the 9th of April the sex workers will take back the Red Light District from greedy politicians, and hopefully hand them over to more capable politicians, who are open to a dialogue with sex workers, rather than a dictatorship as has been the case in recent years. I also urge other cities to follow this example, like Utrecht where they also closed down many windows. Give back the brothels to the sex workers, and stop selling out your souls for the money made on real estate. The era of the sex workers has begun!