Another 108 million euro to take away sexworker's workplaces
Fashion shops to replace Amsterdam's trade mark window prostitution
With Project 1012 moving in the last phase of it's completion, another 108 million euro is needed to complete it's task of closing down window prostitution in Amsterdam. That was the information that was published yesterday in an article in the newspaper De Telegraaf. The project, which has as a goal to reduce window prostitution in Amsterdam with 40% and reduce the amount of coffeeshops, has already closed down 117 windows for prostitution thus far, and is still set on closing down 94 more windows.
In total Amsterdam will go from 512 windows back in 2007 to 320 windows at the end of the project, and will have cost approximately 500 women a safe and above all a legal place to work. Women that will receive no help from the government of any kind, and are simply left without a place to work, resulting in an increase of illegal prostitution, as we've already noticed in the last couple of years.

Currently 395 windows remain for sex workers in Amsterdam, but with 94 more windows threatened to close down, the 19 window brothels offered by the city's multiplicity is by far not sufficient to replace the loss of those 94 windows, or the 117 windows the city has already lost.
From those 94 windows that are still scheduled to close down, already 10 windows have been bought, and will close down in January 2016. This still leaves 84 more windows to be bought, for which a budget is needed of 108 million euro. A large part of that money is tax payers money, which get's used to kick out women from their only legal place to work, but still 24 million is needed to complete the estimated budget of 108 million euro for this. With almost 80% of it's budget complete, it seems like almost a matter of time before the city finds another investor to throw it's money away into the bottomless pit of Project 1012.

Because looking at the result of Project 1012, it certainly hasn't been a profitable project for the investors. Buildings that once used to be brothels have now turned into cheese shops, art galleries, 'fashion' shops and other small businesses which hardly make any profit at all. In fact, the profits from those businesses have been so bad, that many of the business owners can't make enough money to pay for the rent, while sex workers would gladly pay easily double the price for those same buildings to work in. Right now many of the business that now occupy these ex-brothels get subsidized by the city as placeholders, to prevent prostitution from returning in those buildings.

Beyond the fact that it's a bad deal for the people that invest in this project, also tax payers their money get's spend on a project to reduce Amsterdam's most famous touristic attraction. A touristic attraction which is responsible for more than 1/3 of Amsterdam's tourism, and generates an annual income for the city somewhere between 85 and 170 million euro.
It's no secret that Amsterdam's Red Light District and coffeeshops are at the heart of tourism in Amsterdam. Mention the city of Amsterdam to anyone abroad, and the first things they'll mention are drugs and prostitutes, the same things Project 1012 wants to reduce with about 40%.

Besides being bad for the sex workers, who loose their only legal place to work and will revert to illegal prostitution, causing authorities more problems than they solve. And beyond the huge impact this will have on tourism and the economy for Amsterdam, and the fact that huge amounts of tax payers money and money from investors is being thrown away into this bottomless pit that destroys one of Amsterdam's biggest source of income, it also violates the agreement made in the city council.
Last year, the city council agreed that not more money would be spend on Project 1012. Yet the 108 million euro that is required to finish this project, seems to completely violate that agreement.

The project was once sold to the audience as an 'upgrade of the area' and to 'fight human trafficking'. The upgrade however was never successful, as the business now function more as placeholders than actually upgrading anything at all. Above all the businesses seem out of place in an area internationally known as an area of prostitution. Tourists which come to Amsterdam for it's prostitution feel uncomfortable going in to one of these shops, situated among window prostitutes, and clients of prostitutes feel uncomfortable going inside with prostitutes, while people from those shops seeing them going inside. In short, a bad deal for both businesses.
Beyond that, people don't go looking for shops in Amsterdam's Red Light District, it's confusing for everyone. If people want to shop, they'll go to the famous Albert Cuyp Market, or the expensive P.C. Hoofdstraat, not the Red Light District. And the customers of window prostitutes are also not happy with it. They rely on privacy and discretion, something that is not provided with an art gallery across the street.

Also the argument of fighting human trafficking has never been proven. In not one single case has it ever been proven that a woman working behind a window that was closed down that she was a victim of human trafficking. In fact, it's completely unknown what happened to the women that have lost their only legal workplace. Most likely they have disappeared into illegal prostitution, a problem the police and other authorities in Holland are desperately trying to fight.
Meanwhile the victims of trafficking that are still present in Amsterdam's Red Light District don't receive any help from this project. Kicking them out onto the street will not relieve them from the problems of working for a pimp that is exploiting them.

Why so much money is needed for a project that not only increases the chance of human trafficking, but above all damages tourism and the local economy, is a guess. Apparently someone's making a lot of money somewhere, although it remains unclear how and where. Most likely seems to be that money is being made with the real estate that is being sold. And whoever that person or those people are, they're making a lot more money than the 108 million that is still required to close down the remaining 94 windows. But of course these are all deals that are happening behind closed doors.
Whoever they are, not only are the endangering the lives of 500 women, violating the agreement of the city council not to invest more money in this project and damaging the income generated by tourism the businesses in the city center depend on, they seem to be completely focused on their benefit and not that of the city.

I talked the other day with a couple of girls working at another brothel. Also they agreed with me. If more windows close down, this will be the death of Amsterdam. Every year almost 1 million people come to visit Amsterdam's Red Light District. The people that visit the district like to spend money. They like to party, go wild, have fun. They are willing to spend a lot of money in the local shops, the coffeeshops, but also with girls like us.
We've talked already with so many of our customers, tourists that spend a lot of money here, that have said they don't want to return here, because there's almost nothing left anymore of Amsterdam's Red Light District. This is the one thing many tourists come to Amsterdam for, to smoke a joint and visit legally a prostitute. Closing down more windows will heavily damage not only the economy, but more importantly damage Amsterdam's image of the of drugs, prostitution and tolerance.

Amsterdam without it's coffeeshops and window prostitution, is like Paris without the Champs Élysée and Eifel Tower. It destroys anything that is unique to this city, for which tourists decide to visit Amsterdam. It's destroying Amsterdam's unique selling points, turning it into another boring European city: a city without a soul.
So, even though the project is costing another 108 million euro, both tax payers money and money from investors. And even though investing in this project is a complete waste of money, destroying tourism and the local economy responsible for 85-170 million euro a year. And even though the city council agreed not to invest more money into this project, and they're violating that agreement by continuing to search for more investors to close the gap of 24 million euro. They simply don't care, because real estate and money is more important to them than the local economy, agreements with political parties or the lives of 500 women.

Dutch version


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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.