Amsterdam forces 100 sex workers to work illegal
Prostitutes in the narrowest alley in 1968, currently scheduled for closure.
The city council of Amsterdam recently approved the plan of the expropriation of 12 more prostitution windows in the Red Light District of Amsterdam, and managed to force another brothel owner to change 23 windows into something else. As a direct result, soon about 100 sex workers in the Red Light District of Amsterdam will loose their workplace as a result of these closures, forcing them to work illegal since they do not offer any replacement workplaces or (financial) compensation of any kind for these sex workers.

The plans are all part of Project 1012, the long running 10 year project aimed to gentrify the Red Light District of Amsterdam into a more profitable area, mainly aimed at tourism, as many former window brothels and coffeeshops that have closed down got turned into touristic shops aimed mainly at selling food to tourists. Doing some research into 128 buildings handled by Project 1012 shows that about 60% of the buildings, (mainly former brothels and coffeeshops) got turned into touristic shops mainly aimed at selling food (waffel, Nutella, ice cream, etc), with the remaining buildings mostly aimed at artsy concept stores that really have no place in this area.

The results of this project thus far have been disastrous. Illegal prostitution is growing as a direct result of the closure of brothels nation wide, a good 46% of the legal brothels since the legalization have closed down. Residents of the Red Light District have complained about the busyness in the area, mainly caused by being overloaded by tourists, and have criticized the many touristy food shops that have popped up as a direct result of Project 1012 (although most residents don't realize this is the result of Project 1012). The complaints have even become so big, that a couple of months ago the city council decided to put an immediate ban on new touristic shops, and have declared war on tourism.

Extreme busyness on the main canal of the Red Light District
But in stead of pulling on the emergency break, and concluding that the gentrification project of the Red Light District has not just been a failure, but even disjointed the entire city center, the city council apparently decided to continue even further with this project, by closing down another 37 windows in the Red Light District.

All the windows due to close down are located in the narrow alleys of the Red Light District, once a busy place where many customers would walk around, but now a quiet area that has mostly died as a result of the many window brothels that already have been closed down in this area. The shops replacing the former brothels in this small area have been rather unsuccessful, since they aren't quite located at a very good spot in these narrow alleys.  As a result of that, most of the people walking around in the Red Light District have moved to the main canal, where often it get's so busy it's become extreme, with many residents complaining about the busyness as a result.

Very quiet in the narrow alleys of the Red Light District where many windows have closed.
So it's logical residents of the Red Light District are complaining about the busyness and the tourists, since that's the result of reducing the size of the Red Light District with 40% and concentrating everything on the main canal. Also for sex workers the results are disastrous, not just because many lost a legal place to work, and where therefore forced into illegal prostitution to survive. But also for the remaining sex workers that saw their business going down since the increasing tourism hasn't brought in more customers, but just more people coming to take a look, turning them into more of a touristic attraction than even before.

The city has a huge problem handling the huge increase of tourism, a result of their own tactical plan to 'clean up the Red Light District' with Project 1012, and promote Amsterdam across the borders as 'the place to be'. Their aim was to turn Amsterdam into the Barcelona of the north of Europe, where they would attract tourists with a bigger budget to visit their musea and experience cultural things, but has backfired into being over flooded with tourists, of whom almost all want to see the Red Light District on a shoestring budget.

What I cannot understand is how the city council can still agree with the plans to continue the closure of 37 more windows in the Red Light District, increasing the pressure on the remaining main canal of the Red Light District, plus forcing sex workers to go into illegal prostitution. Because yes, closing down these 37 windows will mean the remaining people walking around in the Red Light District in this area will move to the main canal, meaning more people on the main canal, where it's already extremely busy.

And what to do with those brothels once they're closed down? They can't turn them into more touristy shops like they did before, their own new policy forbids that. So are they to remain empty just like many of the other window brothels that nobody wants because of the limited space available and the fact that the location of these buildings (in the narrowest alleys of Amsterdam) aren't really good for most businesses?

But worst of all. What about the sex workers? The brothel owners are still trying to fight off this decision, not for themselves, but for the women that work there. One of the brothel owners also wanted to address this during the city council meeting, but the city council voted on it without there being any discussion about it. They just did it without thinking of the consequences for these women that work here. Even the other brothel owners, who are not being threatened with closure, are worried about these closures, because the simply can't supply for 100 sex workers a workplace, thus resulting in many sex workers being forced to go work illegal.

How the fuck can you do that? How can you make a decision that is wrong from every angle? Wrong for the sex workers, wrong for the pressure felt by the residents of the area, wrong for the increasing pressure on the smaller remaining area. For what, and why? Who benefits from this? Absolutely nobody! Yet it's gonna cost millions to buy out the brothel owners, and change it into another shop, if somebody is interested to begin with. Because if nobody's interested in it, it will just remain an empty building, like many others, and it will just have costs tax payers millions of euro's for a stupid ass decision that nobody profits from.

Dutch version