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?