Change in Amsterdam
For more then 60 years the PVDA (Labor Party) has ruled in Amsterdam, is has been under their reign that the city government choose to criminalize business owners in the Red Light District and brand them as criminals, and repeatedly yelled in the media that human trafficking was a major problem in the Amsterdam Red Light District. It was under their reign that Lodewijk Asscher (PVDA) decided to close down a large amount of windows to fight human trafficking and forced prostitution (as can be read here).

Now, for the first time in more then 60 years the PVDA is not in control anymore, thanks to the elections which have been a major disaster for the PVDA. Last week three other political parties presented their coalition and their plans for the city, as they will form the new city council at City Hall. The new people who are in control now are D66 (Democrats), VVD (Liberals) and SP (Socialistic Party). An interesting combination of parties who forged a different view on Amsterdam with a new plan.
Of course my interest was what are they going to do with 'project 1012', the project that is focusing on closing down more prostitution windows and coffee shops, reducing the Red Light District into just one street with a couple of alleys.

But as negotiations went along, all we heard about where plans about housing, parking and education, everything but Amsterdam's most famous area itself, the Red Light District. And even when they presented last week their plans, at first it wasn't really clear what the plans for the Red Light District where. Where they going to continue to close more windows down, taking away more safe workplaces for prostitutes, and forcing them into the abyss? Or where they finally going to stop the project that cost hundreds of women their workplace, income and job, under the pretense of 'protecting them'?
It was almost as if the media and the political parties where avoiding talking about the Red Light District, making it seem like other things where more important then the lives of those who are at risk, the prostitutes themselves, and the most famous part of Amsterdam itself, the Red Light District. Perhaps they're scared to talk about it, scared for criticism on their plans even before they begin with their work. Perhaps they don't care at all, and it's one of those things they flipped a coin over.

It wasn't until their entire plan got online, that I could read about their plans for the Red Light District. The plan is basically very simple. They're going to become more 'coffeeshop friendly', which is a good thing for the Red Light District. And they're also going to invest less money in project 1012 to buy prostitution windows. Well, it's a step in the right direction I guess. But why are they 'just' going to invest less money in it? Why not just quit a project that's not only doing the opposite of what it promises, but even makes the situation worse, and above all, is doomed to fail? Spending less money is good, but why spend any money at all on a project that's doomed to fail? Was it really so hard to just quit the project?
After all, they did decide to quit banning coffeeshops, and even embrace them with a 'coffeeshop friendly' approach. So why didn't they decide to make a 'prostitution friendly' approach? Why are they so adamant on closing down windows, even though they're going to spend less money on it?

I don't know what to expect of this new coalition and their plans. It's better then it was, but it looks to me like they still want to continue the plans, just on a lower budget. Does this mean they're also convinced that closing down windows will save women from forced prostitution? And if so, then why would they spend less money on it? Does this mean they care less about those girls who are forced?
The only conclusion that I can draw from the new plans are that they don't care about prostitutes. Not only where they mum on the whole project for the entire length of their negotiations, even though plenty of other plans and ideas they had did get mentioned in the media. But on top of that, they never presented a new plan for the Red Light District in a big way like how they presented other plans. Apparently they don't care so much about the Red Light District.

But they do care about coffeeshops, since they're going for a radical change in their approach towards them. Because where the current city government is focused on closing down coffeeshops, the new one embraces them. Yet when it comes to prostitution, they're still continuing the previous plans, but because they don't care so much, they just don't want to spend so much money on it.
Apparently the new coalition doesn't care about us. They don't care if we're forced or not, they don't care if we're safe or not, we're not even worth mentioning. Well, at least there's one good thing about not being mentioned, we don't get mentioned in a bad way again, as we've been mentioned in the past ten years predominantly through talks about crime, forced prostitution, human trafficking and all that shit. Like crime's the only thing happening in the prostitution industry in the Red Light District. I guess right now no exposure is the best exposure we can get. We're just not that important to them, which is strange if you think about the fact that the new tagline of the coalition is 'Amsterdam is from everyone', I guess everyone except the prostitutes.

Dutch version


8 Responses
  1. Cliente X Says:

    Hello, Felicia. Im a spanish john that used to read ur bf's blog before he closed it (what happened?). Another blogger (Donkey) told me u opened this one so I come here and I think its really wonderful. I've added it to my blogroll and I hope I can read all ur posts very soon.

    Here in Spain socialist party (equivalent to labour parties) has been also a fierce enemy of prostitution, their former leader (Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba) said that prostitution should be forbidden and between the most well know politicians of this party there are several women that present themselves as "abolitionists" (Elena Valenciano, Ángeles Álvarez, Yolanda Besteiro...) In past legislature, they even wanted to propose to ban the ads of prostitution in the newspapers.

    But the populares (the conservatives) held a very similar view, well, they seem more interested in fighting street prostitution but the speech about "dignity" of women, protection against mafias and punters and reinsertion of prostitutes is exactly the same.

    Parties that are in our side are really small, just the liberals (and here is not as there that liberals have great power, here they havent a single parlamentary, in fact many people dont know even that they exist) and Ciutadans that are socialdemocrats (more democrats than socialists) with a lot of common sense. They got 2 parlamentaries in the last elections to the Europarlament.

    Well, about what u write here I think that there is an official truth that nobody wants to question. To support a "prostitution friendly" approach is, or at least is what our politicians think, very unpopular. There have been many campaigns against prostitution, its still not very common to hear the own sex workers in the media, usually we hear what our authorities (police, politicians and some "experts" as journalists) say. Moreover, they have nothing to win supporting the SWs, politic is not a matter of principles but of convenience and until SWs rights movement hasnt got a strategy to put some pression on our decission makers we will be completely stuck.


  2. Anonymous Says:

    That's disappointing. I wish they would have spoken out about the stigma sex workers face every day and how difficult it is to lead a double life.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    These current affairs updates are invaluable to those of use who don’t read Dutch and those of us who aren’t in the Netherlands and able to soak up the anti-prostitute narrative as it unravels on a daily basis!

    Frankly, this is the most positive and uplifting piece of news that I have come across recently (OK the political debate in Norway regarding the possible repeal of The Sex Purchase Law is pretty interesting).

    While I can understand that you might have liked a policy statement which said that the “War On Prostitutes Is Over,” the ousting of the Left comes as a very good second. And 'The War On Prostitutes Is Over' statment might not have been helpful. It would immediately have given the anti-prostitute lobby (they are still out there) ammunition to use against the new administration: So, you are in favour of human trafficking and daily rape marathons, then! So you intend to undo all the good work of the last seven years, then! At the moment that’s not possible. Anyone who takes that line will be punching air. Indeed, air might be the point; maybe the current administration has cleverly sucked the air out of the debate (at least in the short term).

    What’s the good news? (1) The War On Prostitutes is not a declared priority for this administration. (2) The War On Prostitutes is being scaled back. How? Reduced funding for window acquisition. At this point we don’t know if the scale-back is 3% or 95% (clever!). Maybe common sense has take over in the political asylum and someone has decided that it would be appropriate to at least make the current redundant real estate less redundant before acquiring more of it. And given that this particular war has been raging since 2007 (and the results have been very modest), it may take quite a while before new closures appear to be even remotely sensible. (3) The current administration has signaled its liberal intent by declaring a more relaxed attitude towards coffee shops. This might be a pragmatic move (stoned Brits are preferable to pissed Brits, for example) or it might be an importantly symbolic statement about the area and in keeping with Amsterdam’s liberal tradition.

    I think you should assume that at least some politicians have read your blog. And if they have any intellectual credibility they will have recognised the strength of your analyses and the rightness of your agenda. They are unlikely to own up to this publicly. It doesn’t mean that they are not affected and influenced by it.

    I take your point about inclusivity but at the moment being ignored might be better than being included. As soon as someone suggestion legislation (even positive legislation) about prostitutes the whole thing will flair up into a public debate awash with negativity.

    Let’s wait and see if the current incumbents are turning a brightly burning fire into a pile of ashes. Segretto


  4. BobS Says:

    @ cliente X: Spain has many social conservative aspects, but has also a very vibrant culture. I heard from the Latina ladies I visit in Holland there are quite large communities of Domenicans and other Latin countries: In this culture prostitution is almost respected (as the girl often provides for the whole family). How is this in Spain?

    How is the position of the Latino/ Latina community anyway?


  5. Cliente X Says:

    Well, my position is that behind prostitution policies there are economic reason, not just moral prejudices. The speech used is just a smoke screen used to cover the real interests.

    There are many latin girls working in prostitution here, mainly from Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador and Dominican Republic. They come from countries in which prostitution is widely widespread but also has a very bad consideration and is FAR AWAY from beign respected. Many times, as u say, the girl is the financial support for her family... but still her relatives look down the girl. Moreover, under our legislation they are considered "pimps" (Article 188 of our penal code says that ANYONE who gets any profit from a person who works in prostitution is pimping her/him even if that person agrees) so they live under constant threat to be jailed.

    They usually avoid police making an agreement with em (I mean, paying an extortion, to be clear) and this makes this job much less profitable. When girls or her relatives are in irregular situation they are in much higher risk to be coerced. But its not necessary, and many comunitarian prostitutes (for example the romanians as Felicia) need to pay an unofficial tax to work.

    Latinos here are at the bottom of society. Spain is an EXTREMELY RACIST country and government blames them of many troubles. Inmigrants can live anywhere, but usually they build up their communities in the most cheap neighbourhoods. U can find many of them doing the jobs spanish people refuse, even with the critical economic situation we are. They are regarded as third class citizens and many associations have reported (and is sth socially known altough media and politicians never talk about it) that police dont respect their constitutional rights. One great problem here are the so-called CIES (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros), roughly translated as "Centres for detention of foreigners" that are much worse than jails and that is where inmigrants in irregular situation are carried before their deportation.


  6. BobS Says:

    @cliente X; so sad to hear the latino community has such a low standing, and even worse to hear that the working girls are not respected by their family.

    Hopefully you´l get a better government soon!


  7. Anonymous Says:

    How may I contact you?


  8. Felicia Anna Says:

    @Anonymous July 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM
    You can find all my contact details on my FAQ page.


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    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.