How Amsterdam is quietly closing down windows in the Red Light District (and hopes you won't notice)
A couple of years ago we saw the end of Project 1012, the gentrification project of Amsterdam's Red Light District, which aimed to close down window brothels and coffeeshops. The narrative frame that was used was that closing these businesses down would help fight crime, but in reality had nothing to do with this. Also a report made by the independent Rekenkamer of Amsterdam concluded crime did not deminish, but that the position of sex workers had only been worsened because of a significant drop in legal workplaces, leaving many sex workers to go underground into illegal prostitution.

But for those who thought this project was over and done with, and that sex workers would benefit from the new city council of Amsterdam, you've got it all wrong. As the city is still continuing the project long after it's officially finish. Because as of the 1st of January until the summer another 37 window brothels will be closed down, still part of the Project 1012 gentrification. The city was wise enough to arrange these closures in silent, as not to attract any attention to itself and create outrage, as the city has tried to give itself a more sex work friendly and inclusive face. But this is just a pure diversion from the fact that they are still closing down windows as part of Project 1012, and even want to close down more windows in the future as part of a new project to make the Red Light District 'less over crowded'.

Meanwhile sex workers who's windows will be closed down as part of Project 1012 will not receive any compensation whatsoever or any alternative workplaces. The city is hereby pushing these sex workers (yet again) into the illegal sector, which has proven to be much less safe for sex workers, due to a high risk of both violence against sex workers as well as human trafficking. It's safe to say closing down these windows will increase trafficking and abuse against sex workers, and the city is directly responsible for this.

Now the city of Amsterdam hopes of course that the closing of these windows from the 1st of January will happen silently and will go unnoticed, as it might damage their sex work friendly image. I hope it doesn't, as the city of Amsterdam has not changed one bit in the last decade, and is still out to destroy the lives of sex workers in benefit of real estate investors who will pay a pretty price for all these empty window brothels who just happen to be located in expensive historical real estate buildings. In short, the city is literally selling out women in favor of financial profits over real estate.

Christian youth club Exxpose does failed attempt at Swedish model
This week it was big news apparently. A small Christian youth club called Exxpose managed to get 40.000 signatures to try and get the Swedish prostitution model implemented in the Netherlands. It took them 6 years to get all of the 40.000 signatures, which already points out how little support they got, as they’ve been desperately trying to hide the fact that they're a Christian club, because they know this will work against them.

Some media however where smart enough to uncover they are a club of Christian people, which for most Dutch people already tells them enough. But even without mentioning that, most people simply don't support this idea in the Netherlands, because they are smart enough to figure out that if something is out of sight doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but is simply less easy to help victims and forces sex workers underground which creates more violence towards sex workers. Two separate polls pointed towards 75% and 87% of the population being against the Swedish prostitution model. 

What many people don't know however is that this club is heavily supported by several people with a lot of influence. People like Christian party leader Gert-Jan Segers, who tried to be very casual about it but failed in that. He tried to casually say that if the evidence supports it he is in favor of this idea, as if he’s basing himself on evidence and as if he’s being unbiased about it. Yeah…. Maybe you shouldn't say that if your face was on their website prominently in support for years, that might have worked better, Gert-Jan! And guess who the petition was offered to? Not so very subtle Gert-Jan!

Other people they get support from are for example public prosecutor Jolanda de Boer, writer and feminist Renate van der Zee, christian savior Frits Rouvoet and former national Rapporteur on Human Trafficking Corinne Dettmeijer among many others. If some of those names sounds familiar to you, that's because I've mentioned all of these people before on my blog. All these people have tried in the past to influence the debate regarding prostitution towards the Swedish prostitution model.

Jolanda de Boer was not so subtle in her role as public prosecutor on human trafficking cases, about exaggerating how many victims there where. Renate van der Zee is basically the mother of the Swedish model support group in the Netherlands. Frits Rouvoet is talking with sex workers to gain intel from them, to try and figure out a way how they can manipulate it. And Gert-Jan Segers is the grandmaster behind all of this, as this is his second attempt at the Swedish model in the Netherlands, after his last one failed a couple of years ago.

And for those that are still doubting about for example Corinne Dettmeijer as being biased in this case. The new Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, Herman Bolhaar, is not biased for example. You may also notice how last year I haven't wrote anything last years about the new numbers on human trafficking like I did other years before when Corinne Dettmeijer was still the Rapporteur. That's because his focus is on human trafficking, whereas Dettmeijer was heavily trying to make it about prostitution in itself. Every year Dettmeijer claimed human trafficking numbers went up, even when they didn’t, always blaming it on how many victims in prostitution would be invisible and a new and better policy was needed. Look back on Gert-Jan Segers his twitter timeline through the years to see how many times he was the first and one of the biggest tweeters of her reports on human trafficking, and how little Gert-Jan Segers has retweeted for example Herman Bolhaar, That’s because Bolhaar is not focusing on getting rid of prostitution, but on fighting human trafficking, like he should.

And for those that are thinking that those young girls from Exxpose are just being young and naive. They might be young, but they're definitely not naive. They have talked with sex workers, i’ve seen many people claiming they haven’t, but that’s not true. But they just don't want to listen to sex workers because they ‘believe’ their opinion is better than those of sex workers.. They're not naive, they're just very much against prostitution, and therefore get a lot of support from the people mentioned above to get this info the mainstream media. They’re not looking for evidence, they’re not looking for reasoning, they’re basing themselves solely on their own christian moral judgement.

But yeah, it took them 6 years to get these amount of signatures. And getting 40.000 isn't really that extremely hard, because most of their signatures come from strict Christians, the more evangelical type that also want gay marriage to be banned and are against abortion. You'll always be able to find a small portion of the population to be in support of extreme ideas. I'm actually quite surprised it took them this long to get this many signatures. I thought there would be more people supporting them. Maybe they would have gained more support if they wouldn't have used such obvious lies. Lies about sex work that might work in other countries like Sweden, but for which the Dutch are way too much down to earth for.

But I'm not worried about them. Even though they get much support from some powerful friends, in parliament there simply isn't enough support for this. So why should I worry about something that's such a long stretch? I don't. It's good that other organisations spoke out against them, just to give off a clear signal, but they'll never pass this anyway. I'm therefore working on more important matters at the moment, and hopefully soon I'll be able to tell you more about that.

I just have one message to those girls from Exxpose: Go get a life! There are so many important things you could be focusing on that could actually improve the world, instead of wasting your time trying to achieve something just because you don't like it. I also think something should be done about the sexual abuse of children in the church, but you don't see me starring a petition to get churches or religion banned. Maybe you should go help those children, who really do need help and leave us alone!
Sex workers against ban on Red Light District tours
In december the city of Amsterdam announced to be banning tours in the Red Light District of Amsterdam after 7PM, and last week alderman Udo Kock announced plans to ban all tours completely in the Red Light District from 2020. The ban came to everybody as a complete surprise, mostly to us as sex workers.

According to alderman Kock the reason for banning tours in the Red Light District is because we as sex workers should not be seen as a tourist attraction, and 83% of the sex workers would be against tours in the area. Also many locals and local businesses would be against the tours, because they would cause too much trouble. The main reason being mentioned is over crowding, tourists being disrespectful and taking pictures of sex workers.

Funny enough, neither me or any of the colleagues I know, have been involved with this so called 'research', or been involved with designing this policy. We're not the only ones that have not been involved though, the association of undertakings on the Red Light strip, the OVOA, says that none of them have been asked as well, and they oppose these measures. As well as the union for sex workers, PROUD, and the Prostitution Information Center (PIC), who went yesterday to speak to the city council about why they disagree with this measure.

The research, which was supposedly conducted by the PIC, is far from reliable. Because of the very simply fact that the PIC wrote on their Facebook that they didn't conduct this research, or where involved in it in any way. Which makes things really interesting, because that begs the question how come that the organization that conducted this research among sex workers, doesn't know anything about it themselves?

This research, by the way, was only conducted with 4 companies in the sex industry and 10 sex workers. In short, it's not a very reliable research if you're only interviewing 10 sex workers. In fact, it's laughable. There are 400 sex workers in the Red Light District, so this is only 2,5% of all the sex workers. But how can 83% of these sex workers be against something, if you only asked 10 sex workers? 

In short, something fishy is going on here. The research is not reliable at all, especially not because me and most of my colleagues completely don't agree with the new policies of the city and also have not been consulted. Banning tours in the evening only leads to more tours in the day time. While the sex workers in the day time work more with locals, and especially for them tours scare away customers more. For sex workers in the evening these tours only bring in tourists into the Red Light District, and considering the fact that our clientele are mostly tourists, we don't mind that.

What we do mind is the complete bullshit some tour guides tell. Some tour guides tell the biggest lies, sometimes completely fabricated stories. But there are also good tour guides, who tell the right stories, and also inform people not to take pictures and to be respectful to us. We love those good tour guides, because they help raise respect for us, and tell people not to take pictures of us, something I haven't seen the city doing so far. 

Speaking of being respectful to sex workers. Udo Kock, the alderman who came up with these new rules, claims he's doing this out of respect for us. Really?! You are taking away our clientele! And what have you done so far to be respectful to us? Not talking with us? Not listening to us? Not responding to the many tweets I send you on Twitter, about how these rules don't help us at all? Not making pictures of sex workers illegal? But, oh wait, you are banning every tour guide in the Red Light District that tells people not to take pictures of us! How is that suppose to help? 

The tour guides in the Red Light District actually can even get a fine if the people in their group take a picture of us. This rule does not apply for tourists themselves, only for tour guides. So by banning tour guides, they're taking away the only people that are not allowed to take pictures of us. And wasn't our complaint that so many people where taking pictures of us, according to mr. Kock? Then how is this supposed to help?! You're taking away the only people you can hold responsible for taking unwanted pictures of us!

This ban on tours helps nobody. It does create more problems for us and everybody else. It brings in less tourists for us, which is our main clientele. It bans tour guides who tell people not to take pictures, so we'll end up with more people taking pictures of us. From april till the end of this year the girls in the daytime will be packed with tours, because tours are only allowed in the daytime. And those people doing a tour in the daytime will come back in the evening to see the Red Light District come to life. So in terms of how crowded it is, it doesn't change anything. Basically you're making it worse for the daytime girls now, and from next year you're taking away our clientele and people telling their group that it's not allowed to take pictures. So in stead of making our circumstances better, Udo Kock is making it much worse. 

But what angers me most, is the fact that Udo Kock is going to tell us if we as sex workers can be seen as a tourist attraction or not. He's literally saying that we shouldn't be seen as a tourist attraction. Uhm... excuse me! Can we decide for ourselves if this is a problem or not for us? Because we know this! This is part of the job here. If you don't like it, you're in the wrong place! There are 2 other red light areas, without tourists if you don't like it. But guess what? None of the girls want to move away from here. Because we don't mind being seen as part of a tourist attraction. Because this tourist attraction brings in the money.

But wait, we can't be seen as a tourist attraction, by alderman Kock? So we should only be seen by locals? What kind of xenophobic bullshit is that? Like only locals would be allowed to see us? Are you ashamed that your city has a Red Light District, mr. Kock? Are you trying to hide it from the world? And what, those local people are better? Many of the local people are much more disrespectful than these tourists! I hear on a daily base Dutch slurs being thrown to my head like 'kankerhoer', 'vieze hoer' and many other things. Almost 3 weeks ago I was almost punched by a Dutch guy, because 'how dare I ask 100 euro for my services'. We have a much bigger problem with Dutch people being disrespectful, especially people from Amsterdam, than most of these tourists! All those people always writing it's the drunk English tourists that cause trouble. That's such bullshit! 

And the work already isn't very good at this moment, because there are simply not so many people on the street to work with. In fact, most of the sex workers including myself don't think it's that crowded at all. We actually think it's much less busy then years ago. This whole story about the Red Light District being too busy is a lie! It's a hoax! It's just a frame used to try and finally destroy the Red Light District, by hitting us where it hurts, by taking away our clientele. They've tried closing down the brothels for 10 years. It didn't work. Their Project 1012 failed. This is just their new excuse to victimize us in the media, so they can try and get rid of us. That's what this is really about!
Sex work and tourism in the Red Light District
The Red Light District in the summer around 4 AM in the morning
In the last couple of years the debate about human trafficking in the Red Light District has been replaced with the discussion about tourism. This debate started a couple of years ago when some locals complained about it being too crowded with tourists in Amsterdam, but quickly got picked up by the media and turned into a witch-hunt against tourism. Now the media has turned this anti-tourism sentiment into a weapon against prostitution in the Red Light District, as they are blaming prostitution in the area for attracting too many tourists, while at the same time claiming sex workers can't work because of all these tourists.

The timing of this debate seems very convenient for the people that have been trying to push prostitution out of the Red Light District for years. Just after we did our protest against Project 1012, the gentrification project to close down windows in the Red Light District, which used the narrative of human trafficking as an excuse to close down windows, this narrative slowly died. After all, it's quite hard to disagree with the people you're claiming to help. Quickly after that the media picked up the complaints of some people that Amsterdam became too crowded with tourists, and slowly worked their way towards a narrative where the Red Light District would be too crowded with tourists. Their end game seems to be the same as before, now they're just using the new excuse of over-tourism in stead of human trafficking to get rid of prostitution.

This masterplan consists out of the media influencing the public opinion about tourism. Their masterpiece was released last week. After a couple of years of a slow build up, they released an article with a sex worker complaining about before having customers on the streets, but now only tourists on the streets. And that the income of sex workers has dropped a lot because of these tourists. At least, that's the narrative they presented. Most sex workers in the Red Light District however feel different about it.

We did a small round and talked with a dozen of my colleagues. The results might be quite surprising  for those that think we're not making any more money because of tourism. Because when asked if sex workers in the Red Light District thought it was too busy on the streets, a whopping 75% of them answered no. In fact, they even claimed it has become less busy. Quite the opposite of the narrative in the media. And just to clarify, we asked them specifically about the people on the streets, not about their clientele.

The sex workers that did feel it's too busy in the Red Light District, where interestingly all sex workers with a short career in the Red Light District. Of all the sex workers who have worked here for 5 years or longer, they all felt it was less busy then before. In short, sex workers that are new here might think it's busy now, but haven't seen how things where before. I have however, as I am one of those sex workers who thinks it's not busy at all, but in fact the Red Light District has become much more quite compared to 9 years ago when I got started here.

When I started working here 9 years ago, it was busy as hell in the Red Light District. What now you can only find on a Saturday evening, used to be how all the days where before. It was so busy back in those days, that I had to leave earlier from work to get to my window, because I had to wave my way through the crowds. These days this only happens in the weekends. On a regular Tuesday these days however, it's quiet on the streets. Especially in the late hours it gets really quiet. Before there where every day people walking around until 6 AM in the morning, but these days the area becomes quiet after around 2 or 3 AM in the morning already. The only people that are left after that, are a couple of people still walking around because they don't have enough money to go inside with a sex worker, them and the drug dealers on the streets. Often around 5 AM in the morning there are actually more drug dealers still left on the street than other people.

So the claim that the area has become much busier is just nonsense, unless you would compare it to decades ago, let's say the 80's. But if that would be the case, then why didn't this come up earlier? The witch hunt on tourism didn't start until around 2016, almost a year after we did the demonstration. The sex worker they spoke with in the media started working here by the way in mid 2016. Yes, she has 35 years of experience of working as a sex workers, of which mostly in her home country, not the Red Light District. Apparently she just occasionally would fill in for one of her friends who worked here in the past. But she didn't really start working here on a daily base until about 3 years ago. So comparing that blue Monday you worked a couple of times with how things are now, isn't really very reliable. And claiming things of 10 years ago, when you weren't here every day also isn't.

Because one of the claims that she makes, is that the windows in the day time 10 years ago where full. Interesting to say for someone that rarely was here back in those days. I started here 9 years ago, and back then already most of the windows in the day time where empty. So either something radically changed in 1 year time, or she simply is stating things she doesn't know about, because she wasn't here. Especially, since my other colleagues that have worked here longer then me, say the same thing: the windows in the day time have always been mostly empty. So this isn't because the work turned bad, this has always been the case.

The only places where mostly sex workers would be working in the day time, back then and now, are in the narrow alleys. But unfortunately those are the windows the city mainly has closed down in the past decade. While those windows where the most popular with sex workers, because customers in the day time feel more comfortable in a small narrow alley, compared to a big open canal where everybody sees you going inside. These narrow alleys are the best workplaces, because it offers customers a little more discretion compared to the main canal for example. So yes, there are less sex workers working in the Red Light District in the day time compared to 10 years ago. But this has nothing to do with the work being good or bad, but is simply because the best places got closed down, and the places nobody wants to work in are mostly what is left these days.

Then the narrative that before there where customers and now only tourists. An interesting narrative, since I've only ever worked with tourists in the past 9 years, just like most of the sex workers here. If you wanted to work with locals, the Red Light District was never the place to do this. Especially in the nighttime, like 99% of your clientele has always been tourists in the past 10 years in the Red Light District. For sex workers that work in the day time it's a different story, they work more with locals, and we can see how that worked out, most of the windows in the day time are empty. That alone should already say something about sex workers and tourism. After all, if sex workers hated tourists so much, and preferred more local customers. Then why do most sex workers work in the evening, when there are the most tourists? Wouldn't it make more sense that they're been working in the day time, when there are fewer tourists and the rent for the room is cheaper as well?

Yes, the income has dropped a lot. I remember when I came here 9 years ago, I was making a ton of money. But already back then colleagues that had been working here longer than I had, where complaining about how bad the work got. When I heard how much these girls where making before, I regretted I hadn't started working here years ago. In 2012 however the work got a little less. At first I thought it was something about myself. I thought it had something to do with my look, my costume or my hair. I got really depressed because I couldn't figure out why I wasn't making as much as I was before. In 2014 however the work got really bad, and not just for me, but for many girls. I realized the problem wasn't me, but it was the work. There where less people left on the street to work with, and the people that where still walking around had no money.

Every year since then the work got worse and worse, until last year, which was the worst year ever. Every girl is complaining about the work. But the problem isn't that it's too busy with too many tourists. No, quite the opposite. Late at night there's nobody left anymore on the street to work with. Look around at 3 AM in the morning, and see how many people are still left. There is a reason why so many girls these days go home earlier. Years ago most of the girls would stick around until the very last minute, because you still had people you could work with. But these days girls go home earlier, because the streets are empty.

The majority of the sex workers in the Red Light District don't think it's too busy with tourists, these tourists are actually most of our clientele. So why would we ever want to get rid of that? The reason we're not making money anymore is because in the last decade there are less people on the street, and the people that are left are all people that don't have money to come inside. The windows during the day time also where never full 10 years ago, they've always been empty mostly in the day time. But the best workplaces for sex workers in both the day and the night time have been closed down by the city itself. This whole narrative in the newspapers is just aimed at gaining support to move prostitution out of the Red Light District, something these people have already been working on for over a decade, but now have found a new excuse to use.

Funny enough their narrative isn't working out so well. The media recently also published a 'research' among people in Amsterdam that would support the notion that prostitution had to move out of the Red Light District. Fun fact is that this article got completely bashed on social media with people calling it fake news and blaming the 'import Amsterdammers' (people that aren't originally from Amsterdam) as the reason. There seemed to be full on support to keep the Red Light District as it is, in fact, the number of people that have responded negatively on this article have now even succeeded the number of people they did this research with.

But the most interesting thing perhaps is that there's something fishy going on with this research. One of the questions was for example how often people from Amsterdam come in the Red Light District. From this question they concluded that people from Amsterdam would avoid the Red Light District. But that's not how things work. After all, just because I don't come somewhere, doesn't mean I actively avoid it. And especially the Red Light District. Why would someone visit it if they're not looking for the thing you can find here? It's no surprise the research is nowhere to been found online. The OIS who conducted this research hasn't published it on their own website, and non of the media seem to be able to provide a link to this research. Funny enough this research was also led by someone from the PvdA, the same political party that wanted to get rid of prostitution from the Red Light District in the first place. Coincidence much?
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.
Lies about debts of prostitutes in Red Light District
In a recent article published by newspaper Trouw, several Christian organisations talk about how girls in the Red Light District of Amsterdam would have debts of thousands of Euros with brothel operators, due to the fact that the income for us had dropped enormously in recent years.

And while it is true that the income has gone down a lot, the story that girls would be in debt with brothel operators is largely bullshit. Of course there can always be exceptions, but generally speaking there are no debts with brothel operators for a number of reasons.

The first and most important reason why girls don't have debts with brothel operators, is that you have to pay your room upfront per day. In short, if you don't have money to pay for the room, you don't get a room, and therefore also can't built up any debts. Brothel operators are not in the habit of giving away rooms for free, with the ‘pay me back later’ attitude, simply because you never know if you'll ever get paid back later. If a girl decides to quit and go back home, she can just leave, leaving the brothel operator with no money for the room.

In short, no money, no room. If you can't afford to pay the rent, you don't get the room. It’s just like with any other business, if you don’t have the money, you don’t get the place. So this whole story is largely bullshit. And brothel operators certainly won't let any debts run up to thousands of Euros, since that would cost them their income if a girl decides to make a run for it.

Than this whole story of the prices being so incredibly high for the windows. An average price for a room in the night time is about 165 Euro. The most expensive ones being 190 for the evening shift, the cheapest one being 130 Euro. For the daytime the average rent is about 90 Euro, ranging from 80 to 110 Euro. One brothel operator in the Red Light District works based on a one shift per day system, with a higher price of currently I believe 245 Euro.

But let's compare the price of these rooms with a hotel room for example, to see if it's really that expensive. A cheap hotel room in the Red Light District is about 220 Euro per night. That's a lot more expensive than the average of 165 we pay for the rooms. And it's basically the same thing, you rent one room with a bed of about the same size our perhaps a little smaller.

If you'd compare it to other businesses, we're also much cheaper of with our brothel operators. Try and find a business space for less than 165 Euro per day, that you don't have to pay for on the days your business is closed and even allows you not having to pay rent for your business space when you go on holiday.

Annemarie van Gaal recently complained in another article that the prices of the rent for rooms in brothels in the Red Light District of Amsterdam where extremely high. Interesting that she should claim this, since miss Van Gaal herself is in the board of directors of Start Foundation, the investor in the My Red Light brothel in the Red Light District. And My Red Light charges 165 Euro per night for their rooms. In other words, if Van Gaal complains about the rent for rooms being too high, and accuses the owners of brothels of 'exploitative behavior’, perhaps she should take a look in the mirror, since My Red Light does exactly the same thing!

In the opinion of most of the girls the rent is not too high, it's much cheaper than a hotel room or business space that other businesses pay for. Plus with the additional security measures of the brothel operators they offer, I'd say it's a fair price. Of course cheaper would always be better, but we don't blame the brothel operators of being exploitative for the prices they charge for their rooms, because in all honesty it's a fair price for us. Real estate in the city center of Amsterdam, where the Red Light District is located, is simply very high. That has nothing to do with the brothel operators, but does have something to do with a gentrification project called Project 1012.

The whole point of the article in Trouw was a clear example of how Christian organisations try to victimize sex workers every chance they get. Using the frame of how our income has dropped versus the rent we pay for our workplaces, they try to frame the brothel operators (again) as the bad guys. Sadly enough Annemarie van Gaal, who has good intentions I presume, but clearly lacks any knowledge of the Red Light District, follows the frame, not knowing she's riding the bandwagon of sex work abolitionists posing as heroes.

If the problems were really as big as those Christian organisations claim, then why would we still come to work here? After all, we're not making any money according to them, and are only making losses. So then why show up every day to make the loss even bigger? You don't have to go to work there. But of course that's the whole frame they're trying to use. They're trying to make it look like we're forced to work there, without explicitly stating it.

The funniest thing about the whole article in Trouw is that they still try to hint at large numbers of sex workers in the Red Light District being forced to work for pimps. But if that'd be the case, and so many of us wouldn't be able to even break even from our rent, that'd mean that the pimps also wouldn't be making any money. In short, there's a huge flaw in their narrative. No money for us, would mean no money for the pimps. And if those pimps wouldn't be making any money, than what would be the point for them to be here?

The flaws in this narrative are so hilarious, they even completely contradict each other. Either the story is that we're independent, but we're not making any money and even would be making losses on the rent. But that can't happen in reality, since the brothel operators wouldn't be making anymore profits, thus everything would die out pretty quickly. Or the story is that we're all forced by pimps, thus the income must still be profitable enough, otherwise there wouldn't be a point for a pimp to exploit us, since there would be no profit.

The only reason these organisations claim these things, is so they can profit from it themselves financially. After all, these christian organisations their whole reason of existence is based upon the idea that they have to save us. But if there’s nothing to save us from, there’s no reason for them to exist, and thus no reason for people to finance their schemes. So the only reason they claim these lies is so they can profit from it themselves.
Dutch government's 'pimp ban' is dangerous
For a while now The Netherlands has a new government, a coalition between right winged liberal party VVD, D66 and Christians from CDA and ChristenUnie. And apparently while negotiating about the new Dutch policies, the Christians where able to trade out their opinion in exchange for other things. Thus this new Dutch government came up with a plan for a 'pimp ban'.

Now a pimp ban might sound like a good idea, but the name is deceiving. Because in reality this pimp ban aims to criminalize anyone that aids and financially benefits from illegal working prostitutes. And just to clarify, illegal working prostitutes are not victims of trafficking, but simply sex workers that don't have a license to do sex work. Those licences are also almost impossible to obtain, since cities in recent years have basically only reduced the number of licenses, in an attempt to clean their cities of prostitution, with the excuse of fighting human trafficking.

The best example of this is in the Red Light District, where they closed down 128 windows. But also other cities have followed Amsterdam's example. In total 800 windows have closed down alone, leaving now 1200 windows in the Netherlands, in stead of the 2000 windows they had back in the year 2000. And in total there are now 46% less licensed prostitution businesses in The Netherlands since the brothel ban was lifted in 2000.

New licences are rarely ever given out, simply because cities don't want to. In short, even if you wanted to get a license to work legal as a sex worker, it's virtually impossible to get one. So a lot of sex workers are stuck working illegal, under the radar. Not because they are forced by a pimp, but because the government forced them, by reducing legal workplaces and not creating any new legal alternative workplaces for them.

Now you might think it's still a good idea to criminalize people that financially benefit from sex workers, because most people often think about pimps when they hear this. But this is exactly where this new upcoming law is so deceiving. Because this law doesn't aim at pimps, but anyone that benefits from sex workers without a license. So also for example the driver of an escort girl, the bookkeeper and the security guy. Literally anyone that financially benefits from a sex worker that works without a license.

To mislead the public opinion, the ChristenUnie party leader Gert-Jan Segers claimed that the pimp ban aims to criminalize human traffickers, and anyone that benefits from human trafficking. But this is simply not true. Nowhere in the entire proposed law it is mentioned that this law would only apply in cases of human trafficking, but in stead criminalizes anyone that aids and financially benefits from sex workers that work without a license.

Some people have said that Gert-Jan Segers is not well enough informed about the new law to realize the negative effects of his laws, but the reality is completely the opposite of this. In fact, he designed this law, so he knows very well what he did, and he intentionally designed it this way, so he could mislead people into believing it was about fighting human trafficking, while in reality it serves a different goal: to fight prostitution any way he can. You see, in the end Gert-Jan Segers his goal is not to fight human trafficking, but to try and ban prostitution anyway he can, and this law is designed to do exactly that. So he knows very well what he's doing, and Segers is extremely well informed about the prostitution industry and how things work, for example by Christians saviors Frits Rouvoet.

And to hive you an idea of what would happen if Gert-Jan Segers would succeed. If this 'pimp ban' gets implemented, it would mean that people who do business with sex workers working without a license don't want to do business with them, out of fear of being caught as a pimp. So bookkeepers, accountant, landlords, security people, drivers and chauffeurs would not do business anymore with these sex workers, making the life and work of these sex workers extremely difficult. Of course these sex workers would love to work legal, but since the cities don't allow them to get a license, their stuck working illegal. Obviously they won't stop working as a sex worker, since that would mean a loss of income, so they would continue working illegal, but can no longer do business with safe people, leaving only criminals to take advantage of that.

Indeed, this law would lead to more extortion of sex workers by criminals, which is also called human trafficking. So in stead of fighting human trafficking with this law, it would increase it. Obviously Segers knows this, but he simply doesn't care, as long as he gets his way because of his Christian morals. He wants to make the work of sex workers as difficult as possible, in an attempt to reduce prostitution as much as possible.

For me personally, this law doesn't affect me. I work legal, so for me this law is not a problem. But unfortunately not everyone can work legal, because of the problems of obtaining a license. So there are a lot of other sex workers out there in The Netherlands, who are in danger of only being able to do business in the future with criminals who want to try and exploit them. Obviously this is very bad, and the whole reason why this misleading pimp ban is such a bad idea, and proof of why people should never believe politicians like Gert-Jan Segers about topics like human trafficking and prostitution.

Dutch version