Amsterdam not listening to sex workers
Is this really busy?!
Recently the political parties who are in the city government of Amsterdam announced a plan to reduce the business in the Red Light District. They want to open alternative locations, by giving out new licenses in other parts of the cities, for prostitution in hopes that it will reduce the business in the Red Light District, theorizing that sex workers in the Red Light District are fed up with the tourists.

First of all I completely don't understand this nonsense that people are complaining about the Red Light District being too busy. I've been working here for 9 years, and when I started out here it was much busier than it is these days. Before every day was like a Saturday in terms of how busy it was on the streets. In fact, it was busy until the early morning in the Red Light District, but nowadays after 2 or 3 in the morning the streets are almost empty. And I work in the busiest part of the Red Light District!

This isn't just my opinion, we started asking around colleagues and the majority of the sex workers in the Red Light District seem to agree with this. Almost 75% of the sex workers in the Red Light District don't think it's too busy in the street, but are saying it's become less busy. The sex workers that did think it was too busy turned out to be sex workers that haven't worked here for very long, so for them it's all new and they've never seen it how it was before. But even those who thought it was too busy said this wasn't much of a problem for them, as long as they are people with money who come inside with us. Sadly enough however these days there are more people just looking rather then coming in. Partially because they only come to look, partially because they simply don't have any money to come in.

So the claim that these political parties make about sex workers feeling it's too busy, and thus would prefer to work elsewhere is simply not true, but an opinion they projected onto us. But this isn't just the opinion of sex workers in the Red Light District, I've also asked people who work at the sex shops and at the sex shows, who've been working here for years already, and they say exactly the same thing. It's not busy, it's become more quiet in the Red Light District.

So the plan that the political parties have to open other locations for prostitution elsewhere in the city, serves no goal. We don't it's too busy, you've been pressured into thinking that because there's a group of residents that keep shouting this out in the media. And this group their voice is very big in the media. But that doesn't make it true!

It looks like an excuse they can use to kick is out. We've seen the same thing happening in 2013 in Utrecht, another Dutch city, which before also had window prostitution, in total 165 windows. They closed down all the windows over there for a different reason (also a lie), but with the same claim that they would offer the sex workers a new location. That never happened, but the windows where closed down nonetheless. The same thing applied to Arnhem in 2006 already, over there they also closed down 240 windows, claiming they'd open up a new location. Also there it never happened.

The way that Project 1012, a gentrification project in the Red Light District, was sold to the media as a project to fight crimes like human trafficking was used as an excuse to close down windows, they're now simply using a new frame to get us out, which is over tourism. It's just a new excuse to reach the same goal.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. In other words, I don't believe any of this crap. The city government got betrayed by their own mayor this week, who stated that the windows in the Red Light District that where scheduled to close down as part of Project 1012, are still going to close down. These are 37 windows with windows that are especially popular with sex workers because they're located in narrow alleys which offer more discretion to customers.

And also when we're talking about this supposed business, closing down more windows in the Red Light District doesn't make any sense, because that means the rest of the Red Light District will just because busier due to the fact that it's getting further reduced in size. In short, this is such a bullshit story. You're so adamant on fighting this business, yet you're still reducing the size of the Red Light District, making it even busier.

But even the plan itself, to open other locations elsewhere, isn't going to solve their problems. First of all because of the fact that there's simply no other place for it close by. Secondly because the logic of these political parties contradict themselves. After all, if this new plan is to reduce the business in the Red Light District, and at the same time offer sex workers a new place without tourists, then where did all those tourists go to? Either this new location is supposed to attract new tourist, this making it less interesting for sex workers to work there, according to the logic of these parties. Or sex workers would go to this new location because it's tourist free, in which case it doesn't do anything to reduce tourism in the Red Light District. It's one or the other, but this plan can't do both, it's contradicting itself.

Above all, we already have alternative locations. The Singel area is just a 10 minute walk away from the Red Light District, and there are no tourist there whatsoever. In fact, it's pretty much empty. So why would we need another location, of we already have one, or even in fact two alternative locations, because there's another area with window prostitution on the Ruysdaelkade. In short there are two alternatives to the Red Light District, yet still most sex workers prefer to work in the Red Light District. That doesn't seem to support the idea that sex workers want to move out of the Red Light District, nor does it support the idea that other areas will reduce the business in the Red Light District, otherwise it would've been a lot busier in those other areas as well.

What I see very much in this plan is that they claim to have listened to us, while in fact they've not listened to us at all. In fact, they're doing exactly the opposite of what we wanted. They're still closing down windows in the Red Light District, which we protested against, and which would only further increase the pressure of tourism in what remains of the Red Light District. Plus they think we're stupid enough to believe that they're going to open up alternative workplaces so in the end they can close down completely the Red Light District, using the new excuse of tourism in stead of trafficking.

If you really care so much about us, open up those new locations in the Red Light District itself, stop closing down windows in the area, and tourism will spread over more streets in the Red Light District. It's very simple. But they don't want that, they're just trying to deceive us with the promise of a new location, which is never going to work out, we've heard this promise before already in other cities.
  • My photo

    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.