Sex Work in the Netherlands

Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

14th March

Update: Back to Illegal Soliciting...

The impact of Eindhoven's decision to closes its tolerance zone

The decision to shut down the designated street prostitution zone in Eindhoven in 2011 is coming up against criticism and incomprehension among prostitutes. These ladies must be helped out of their dead-end situation, says the alderman. Then I'll go back to illegal soliciting, says one prostitute.
By Esther Wittenberg

Prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands since 2000 and six years ago Eindhoven opened a designated street prostitution area. The aim was to put an end to the nuisance caused by street prostitution in the working class area of Woensel West. Used condoms were being thrown into front gardens, cars were cruising around the area at night, and neighbourhood girls were being asked how much they charged. Thirty prostitutes with addiction problems were given a pass that allowed them to work in the special designated zone. The aim was also to provide addicted street prostitutes with better healthcare.

A sitting room facility was provided were prostitutes could shower, wash their clothes and get ready for work. Condoms, clean needles and coffee were provided. People from the Salvation Army spoke with the women, a doctor examined the women, and police kept an eye on the situation. The nuisance was reduced and the women's health improved

Although the street prostitution zone has succeeded at virtually all its aims, according to an evaluation, the municipality wants to shut it down in 2011. In the next three years, aided by assistance workers, all the addicted prostitutes must become independent of the drug dealers and pimps. Alderman Marit Mittendorff: We do not want to facilitate these women in remaining in their dead-end situation. We would rather offer them a dignified existence.

Opinions on street prostitution zones vary throughout the country. Amsterdam shut its zone down in 2003. Rotterdam and The Hague followed suit in 2006. The argument for closing the zones was that they attracted drug dealers and human trafficking. The street prostitution zones are still open in Utrecht, Arnhem, Nijmegen, Heerlen and Groningen.


7th April

Update: Age Old Common Sense...

Netherlands decides to keep minimum age for sex workers at 18

The Dutch government does not plan to raise the minimum prostitution age from 18 to 21, the Telegraaf has reported.

Reliable sources have told the paper that justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin has decided that there would be too much opposition to an increase and it would drive younger prostitutes into the illegal circuit.

Meanwhile, the AD reports that the recession is beginning to have an affect on Amsterdam's red light district, with prostitutes reporting a sharp fall in clients and demands for cheaper prices.


11th April

Update: Off the Tourist Map...

Amsterdam's reduced red light district suffers loss of trade

Beate Uhse, the German sex empire that is now largely in Dutch hands, says a publicity campaign is needed to attract more foreign tourists to Amsterdam's Red Light District'.

The company, that sells sex toys, lingerie, clothing and pornography, claims Project 1012 has severely damaged its business. Project 1012, named after the postal code of the Red Light District, is an attempt by the Amsterdam authorities to curb prostitution in the area. It involves the closing of dozens of window brothels.

Beate Uhse owns ten shops in Amsterdam, most of which are located in the sex district. CEO Serge van der Hooft said that the area has been a major tourist attraction: But these days many foreign tourists seem to think that the Red Light District is no more.


31st May

Window Shopping Around...

Falling prices in Amsterdam's red light windows

As the credit crunch keeps away sight-seers and business travellers, the owners of Amsterdam's brothels, escort agencies and sex shops all grumble that those visitors who still do indulge in the pleasures of the flesh are increasingly tight-fisted.

Eva, a 25-year-old prostitute in the city's red-light district, gestures angrily in the direction of a rival who has slashed her rates as the economic crisis emboldens sex tourists to haggle.

Some of the girls are now doing it for 30 euros (£26 1,500 Baht). My price is still 50 euros (£44 2,400 Baht), but the men are playing us off against each other. Some want to pay only 20 euros (£17 1,000 Baht), she told AFP.

Eva is not the only one complaining.

Twenty-six-year-old Oxana, who shares Eva's window, says her income has halved in six months while her window rent went up 25% in January.

On a "good day", she sees six clients but sometimes only one -- at 50 euros per visitor not enough to cover her half of the 150 euro daily rent: But I can't do it for 20 or 30 euros like some of the others. That is not money.


5th November

Update: Red Tape and Red Lights...

Notable sex theatre to continue in Amsterdam's red light area

The Amsterdam city authorities were on the verge of shutting down landmark erotic theatre Casa Rosso in the red light district. Owner Jan Otten resisted - and won.

Jan Otten is the face of the Amsterdam red light district. His erotic theatre Casa Rosso is the most prominent landmark in the historic area of window prostitutes, sex shops and cannabis selling coffee shops. Its illuminated facade has appeared on TV shows across the world and Otten has contracts with 180 travel organisations.

Otten prefers to sit behind the till himself, welcoming guests to the shows, which feature intercourse on the stage.

It was world news therefore when it was announced three years ago that Otten's businesses were being shut down by the municipality. In addition to Casa Rosso, Otten owns the Banana bar and a number of peep shows and sex shops in Amsterdam's red light district. On Tuesday it was disclosed that Otten will after all be granted his entertainment and operating licences from the municipality of Amsterdam, after a long legal battle.

The national Bibob agency, which supervises the integrity of licensees, had advised against Otten's retaining his licences. It alleged Otten had connections with criminal circles and that criminal money may have been laundered via Casa Rosso.

At first I thought it was a comedy, Otten said. I said: go ahead and look into it, none of those stories about criminal money are true. I've done nothing wrong. But when the licences were not forthcoming, it turned into a very bad movie. Once, when he got into an argument with one of his employees, he thought about selling the whole damn business .

Shutting down his windows became part of the city's plans to close brothels, sex shops and marijuana cafes to drive organised crime out of the tourist haven. The Bibob agency connected Otten with laundering ransom money that had been paid in the 1983 for kidnapped beer magnate Freddy Heineken. Those stories were quickly refuted, Otten said. Nonetheless the investigation took a very long time because not all of his investments were transparent.

In the meantime Casa Rosso suffered under the threat of closure. I have had a great deal of trouble from all the stories that have come out since 2007. Whether involving human trafficking or forced prostitution, Casa Rosso is brought into the picture in all the stories about abuses in the red light district. And I have nothing to do with that, Otten said.

And then there are the costs he has had to incur to secure his licence. All those lawyers and advisers. It certainly cost a million euros. For a licence. That ruins a business owner, Otten said. In retrospect I do have the feeling that they wanted to ruin me.


7th November

Update: Falling for the Trafficking Hype...

Netherlands set to criminalise some buyers of sex

Clients of unlicensed prostitutes in the Netherlands may in future risk prosecution under a proposed new law, the cabinet said.

The draft law, yet to be approved by parliament, will make it compulsory for prostitutes to go through a registration process.

Municipalities will decide how many brothels to allow in their borders, and where.

Prostitutes will become liable for prosecution if they work without the required registration, or in a business with no permit, said the statement.

Clients who make use of the services of illegal prostitutes can be prosecuted, because by doing so they help sustain a form of prostitution in which abuses and exploitation are more difficult to prevent.

Prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands since 2000, but only brothels and businesses letting out streetside windows to prostitutes have hitherto required municipal authorisation.


4th December

Update: Unsafe Legislation...

Netherlands working girls concerned about proposed registration scheme

Amsterdam and prostitution have for a long time been bedfellows and the city's red light district attracts thousands of tourists who come to take advantages of the liberal laws. But these thrill seekers may soon have to get their kicks elsewhere, because the Dutch government wants to criminalise sex tourism.

The Netherlands has proposed a Prostitution Regulation Law targeting both those who buy sex as well as those who sell it. Lawmakers say it will identify women who are forced into the industry against their will.

At the moment only prostitutes who work in brothels require a license many choose to work as escorts or provide services from their homes instead. Under the new law, all women working in the industry would be forced to register, and their details will be available to the police and justice department.

The idea has caused concern in a number of organisations, including the Red Thread, which represents sex workers. Jan Fisher is its chairman: It will be the reverse. The ones who want to work know how devastating the stigma could be, and will be. They will try to work outside this system and they'll be vulnerable when they're detected by the police and tax office, and the ones who are trafficked may be forced by their pimps to register so they have a kind of legal status.

Another major fear is that the Netherlands will move towards a Swedish model, where it is a crime for men to visit prostitutes. Pye Jakobsson, who has worked in the Swedish sex industry for several years, says the Dutch plan is even more stupid than the restrictive regime she works under: The Swedish experience tells us that if you're vulnerable or under the radar as you will be if you're unregistered you're more prone to meet dangerous clients as the good ones, the decent ones, who will want to buy sex from registered workers. And there will be women, for one reason or another, who don't want to register and they won't have the choice to say 'no' to bad clients.

Increase in violence Pye believes there will be an increase in violence against sex workers if the law is introduced in the Netherlands and is urging lawmakers to rethink the plans. If the idea is to combat people trafficking, she says, the government should use existing labour laws. Pye argues most women in the trade do the job through choice.


17th April

Updated: Age Discrimination...

Mean minded Dutch MP proposes a minimum age of 21 for sex workers

Sex workers in the Netherlands must be at least 21 years old and carry a pass with their photo and a special registration number, says a law amendment just filed in parliament.

People of 21 are better able than people of 18 to make a well-considered decision about whether or not to work as a prostitute, caretaker injustice minister Hirsch Ballin, who submitted the amendment, said in a statement: They are better able to deal and negotiate with clients. They are more likely to have some further education and thus be less economically dependent on prostitution work.

The amendment, yet to be adopted by parliament, will compel prostitutes to enrol on a national register and to have an entry interview on the risks of the job and alternatives, said the statement.

Registered prostitutes will receive a pass with a profile photograph and registration number, which will enable clients to control that they are using the services of a legal practitioner. Under the current law, only brothel owners and other prostitute handlers require authorisation

Update: Further Details of the registration scheme

17th April 2010. See  Ministry of Injustice press release from , Thanks to Donald

Prostitutes have to be at least 21 years of age. This is Minister Hirsch Ballin's (the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Justice) proposal to the Lower House in an amendment to the legislative proposal already before the Lower House concerning the regulation of prostitution and sex businesses. Persons aged 21 are better able to make a well-considered decision about working as a prostitute than people aged 18; they are also more resilient as regards handling and negotiating with clients. Moreover, they will more often have finished an education and therefore economically less dependent on work in prostitution. Municipalities will have to conduct a substantive interview with each prostitute at the time of their registration or extension thereof.

Initially, the Dutch government chose an age limit of 18, in view of the risk that prostitutes aged between 18 and 21 would disappear into illegality. Minister Hirsch Ballin wants to combat this with strict checks and making illegal prostitutes, operators and their clients punishable.

Prostitutes will have to register in a national register. Upon registration, an interview has to be conducted with each prostitute concerning the risks of the business, health care and assistance, social security, insurance and possibilities to leave the world of prostitution. During such an interview, any abuses can be discussed and forwarded to the police and welfare services. Registration will only be possible in 25 to 35 larger communities throughout the Netherlands in view of the fact that conducting this type of interview requires the necessary expertise on the part of the civil servants. Registered prostitutes will receive a pass with their picture and registration number (but without their name). Clients have to check whether they are dealing with a legal prostitute by means of the pass. It is the intention that clients can establish via the Internet whether the registration number advertised by the prostitute actually exists.

There is a taboo on prostitution although it is legal in the Netherlands. Anonymity and privacy are therefore very important for prostitutes. Only a small number of supervision officials and the police will have access to the national register of prostitutes. The register will also not be linked to other IT systems (such as the Tax and Customs Administration). The details of prostitutes who retire are immediately removed from the register.

Brothels and other sex businesses (clubs, escort services, sex cinemas, massage parlours) are required to have a licence. Municipalities determine via licences where and how many brothels or other sex businesses there will be. As regards brothels and escort companies, a municipality can elect not to allow any company, the so-called zero option. The municipality does need to have supportive arguments for choosing this option that are related to public order, safety or public health. Moral arguments should not play a role.

The licences for prostitution companies will include conditions on health, safety and the right to self-determination of prostitutes. This will strengthen their position. Prostitution companies will require a permanent address with a fixed telephone line for a licence. The licences of escort services will be entered in a national registers which will create supervision of this part of the industry.

Clients who make use of illegal prostitution will become punishable because they maintain a type of prostitution where forms of abuse and exploitation can easily occur. The prohibition on the operation of a prostitution company without a licence and registration duty for prostitution creates a clear division between legal and illegal prostitution. That division is also recognisable for clients.

The act is intended to regulate the prostitution industry, not to obstruct the legal part of the industry. The new act is also intended to make a contribution to combating abuses such as coercion, abuse and human trafficking.

Punishment of violations

  • Prostitute without registration or working in a brothel without a licence: A fine of at most 380 euros *
  • Clients who visit unregistered prostitutes or unlicensed brothels: A fine of at most 7,600 euros or a term of imprisonment of at most 6 months *
  • Sex business without a licence or violation of the statutory rules: A fine of at most 18,500 euros or a term of imprisonment of at most two years

Update: Doubts

8th February 2011. See  article from

Government plans to introduce a special register of prostitutes are running into trouble in parliament, with MPs from the ruling right-wing VVD also having doubts, news agency ANP reports.

In particular, MPs say there are legal questions over the privacy of prostitutes and fears that it will drive them into the illegal sector. VVD MPs are also concerned about the cost of the registration system and regulation, ANP said.


11th February

Update: Registered as a Bad idea...

Netherlands drops idea of mandatory registration for sex workers

Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten has scrapped plans to introduce a hustler ID for prostitutes.

The ID was to be introduced to supposedly combat illegal practices, such as underage prostitution, people trafficking and forced prostitution.

The idea received severe criticism from both the prostitution sector and parliament. Prostitutes feared the ID would force many of them underground or that their data could be misused.

MPs rejected the proposals because they say registering prostitutes would only drive them into the illegal circuit.


21st July

Update: Early to Bed...

Amsterdam sex shops and peep shows forced to close at 10pm

Sex businesses in the famous Amsterdam Red Light district De Wallen must in future be closed after 10.00 p.m. The sex business owners have lost their appeal against the decision of the city council to introduce the closing times.

For 40 years, it was tolerated that brothels, peep shows and sex shops in the Red Light district could stay open until 2.00 a.m. At the beginning of the current year, however, the city council decided that the Shop Opening Times Act had to be enforced ant all sex shops had to close at 10.00pm.

Fourteen owners of 23 sex shops brought a case against the city council, but saw their argument rejected. With the appeal court ruling the collective route is now closed. Individually, a business can however still look and see if it is possible to remain open for longer, said lawyer Rob IJsendijk.


25th October

Update: The Arch Nutter of Amsterdam...

Moral crusader who is chipping away at Amsterdam's red light trade

For several years now, the young (37) Amsterdam alderman Lodewijk Asscher has been waging his own crusade against sex workers in Amsterdam. He claims: We have to abandon our romantic view of the red light district.

For many tourists the red light district is a normal stop on their visit to Amsterdam, taking a look at the prostitutes posing in the windows to attract clients. For many visitors the red lights are a symbol of what is possible in the Netherlands, with its tolerant attitude to sex and drugs.

The Dutch government decided to lift the ban on prostitution in 2000. The introduction of licencing was intended to improve the position of prostitutes.

Hard line Alderman Asscher is politically responsible for the red light district. He regularly makes comments regarded as un-Dutch . He believes it is a national misconception that prostitution belongs in the compass of freedom and tolerance. The problems, he claims, are grossly underestimated:

Hard-line criminal behaviour is what is happening behind those windows. Women subjected to extremes of exploitation. They have a non-existent debt they have to pay to a pimp by prostituting themselves. They are physically abused if they don't work hard enough.

It's very difficult to tackle effectively. Very frustrating for the police and the courts. The penalties are often minor. There is also an absence of public indignation. Recently we were dealing with a pimp who had used violent methods to force 110 women into work. The only sign of public anger was when the man escaped.

In his capacity as alderman, he has introduced a number of measures aimed at reducing window prostitution. Amsterdam has been buying up properties previously owned by the sex industry. In February this year more than 60 addresses lost their prostitution designations. The council is rezoning the whole area. In the future, brothels and coffeeshops will make way for cafes, restaurants and ordinary shops.

Over the next few weeks the Senate will be debating a new prostitution bill. Proposals include discriminating against youg adults  by making the minimum age for registered prostitutes 21 instead of 18.

Having sex with a prostitute living in the Netherlands illegally would become a criminal offence.

It's now or never, threatens Lodewijk Asscher. If it can't be regulated, prostitution will have to be made illegal again.


3rd November

Update: Stick to the Tulips...

Amsterdam councillor asks that the city should cease considering the red light area as a tourist attraction

Amsterdam city council's marketing department should stop promoting the red light district as an exciting tourist attraction, a Christian Democratic councillor has said.

Encouraging tourists to visit the area ignores the problems associated with prostitution and tourists should be told the truth about the position of sex workers , CDA councillor Marijke Shahasavari is quoted as saying.

Amsterdam's promotional website Iamsterdam recommends the evening as the best time to visit this famous part of Amsterdam. The website states:

Prostitution has enjoyed a long tradition of tolerance in Amsterdam and, as with soft drugs, the Netherlands approach is to legalise the trade and impose regulations.' In addition to preventing forced prostitution, this open and honest approach means sex-workers here have their own union, plenty of police protection, an information centre (for visitors as well), frequent monitoring and testing and professional standards.


24th March

Update: A Database for Nutters, Vigilantes and Lynch Mobs...

Nutter minister wants to have public online database of registered sex workers

A bill to regulate the Dutch sex industry has been put on ice in the Upper House. Justice and Security Minister Ivo Opstelten has been told to provide more information on storing data and to investigate whether the plan infringes on human rights.

The bill stipulates that customers have to ascertain whether prostitutes are working legally, because it is a criminal offence to visit an illegal prostitute. This means customers have to be able to find out whether the establishment has a licence, so that they can rest assured that prostitutes are working legally.

Prostitutes who do not work for a brothel have to be registered, so that customers can check their status by phone or on the internet.

The minister does not want to scrap registration altogether, but is willing to have prostitutes registered under a number rather than under their own name and address.



Update: More Miserable by the Hour...

Amsterdam announces further hurdles for brothel owners

Link Here 16th June 2012
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

The city of Amsterdam says it plans to force brothel owners to submit a business plan to the city describing what measures they are taking to ensure sex workers are healthy and not being exploited.

Prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands since the year 2000, and tolerated in Amsterdam for centuries. But in recent years both the city and national government have been giving way to political correctness.

The city says it will adopt the measures announced by 2013, whether or not a national law raising the minimum age for prostitutes to 21 has gone into effect.



Update: Repression Zone...

Amsterdam's miserable deputy mayor looks to further reduce the red light area

Link Here15th September 2012
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

Amsterdam City Council has decided to rezone large sections of De Wallen, as it is known in Dutch, and shut down and evict brothels and other sex businesses which fail to co-operate.

The get-tough policy will come into effect in parallel with a new law banning tourists from the city's coffee shops , where cannabis and other drugs can be bought and consumed legally. The law is in force in Maastricht, and will apply nationwide from January 1st next.

The miserable deputy mayor, Lodewijk Asscher, who is overseeing the anti-sex work campaign, said the red light area's enormous value made a legal challenge inevitable. He said:

De Wallen is big business, and sex industry bosses are always ready for a fight. Even before the outline zoning proposals were completed, we were aware that lawyers had been briefed and were preparing to pick holes in them wherever possible.

The district currently has 400 red-light windows, and Asscher said that should be reduced by 100 by 2017.



Update: Registered as Repressive...

Dutch senate delays the government's repressive anti-sex worker registration laws

Link Here 31st October 2012
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

Netherland's 'Justice' minister Ivo Opstelten is to revise some aspects of new restrictions on prostitution following concerns from the upper house of parliament.

Senators are concerned about how effective the law will be in practice, Nos television says.

The aim of the legislation is to repress prostitution by imposing a licencing system and setting up an official register of prostitutes.

The legislation will also ludicrously require customers to make sure they are visiting a legal prostitute. If the customer fails to check and the prostitute is unregistered he will have committed a criminal offence and could be fined.

This is the second time the senate has delayed the legislation, Nos says. Earlier senators wanted more information about the data protection aspects of the new law and the implications of human rights legislation.



Update: Age of Repression...

Nutters on Amsterdam council seek a minimum age limit of 21 for sex workers

Link Here22nd February 2013
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

Amsterdam moralists of the local council are considering going it alone with repressive attacks on the sex industry after efforts to get their way at that national level appear to have failed.

In particular, the council is considering raising the legal age to become a prostitute from 18 to 21 and introducing a language test. A council spokesman claimed:

A language test is important because it will not only enable the prostitute to speak to police and social workers but take care of herself in an emergency situation.

The proposals will be discussed by the city council executive next week.

The upper house of parliament is currently considering legislation which would require all prostitutes to register as sex workers. It would force clients to check whether the prostitute is registered or not. Both these requirements have come in for heavy criticism.



Update: Ageist Council Rules...

Amsterdam Council sets arbitrary age restrictions on adult sex workers

Link Here28th February 2013
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

PC extremists on Amsterdam Council have voted to increase the legal age for prostitution from 18 to 21 as part of a series of new regulations aimed at repressing the sex industr.

The city council decision will be now be written into local bylaws, along with closing hours for brothels and red-light windows between 4am and 9am. Dutch language tests will also  be introduced for the same reason. A council spokesman claimed:

Younger women tend to be more vulnerable. This is part of a set of measures designed to tackle abuse in the sex industry, and strengthen the independence of prostitutes. The logic of the language tests is the same: if women get into trouble, they need to be able to communicate.

In addition brothel managers will have to produce business plans which show how health and safety regulations, particularly in relation to working hours, are being applied to their employees. If they are renting windows to individual prostitutes, the businesses will have to produce contracts showing the price being paid and any other conditions.



Update: Brothels Scuppered...

Utrecht sex workers set to be sunk by the mayor

Link Here16th July 2013
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

Sex workers in Utrecht have made a last ditch appeal to the city council ahead of plans to close the last of the city's licenced brothels - most of which operate on boats.

The rental contract for the only remaining brothel owner in the city expires next week and is not being renewed because the mayor has concerns about a supposed link with human trafficking.

That means some 300 sex workers will be without a place to work from July 25.

According to news agency ANP, a spokeswoman for the prostitutes says that many of them will now disappear into the illegal sector. Instead, they suggest forming a collective which will rent the boats directly from the council. However, Wolfson has halready told RTV Utrecht that there is no question of the council running prostitution boats .

If no solution is found by Friday, the women are threatening to put up a tent in front of the town hall. They may also take some form of legal action, RTV Utrecht said.



Update: More Miserable...

Government body allows Amsterdam to close 40% of red light windows

Link Here1st August 2013
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

Amsterdam is set to move ahead with plans to close 40% of the prostitution windows in its famous De Wallen red-light district.

26 owners of a total of 100 window brothels, in which sex workers can be seen by prospective clients from the street, had appeared before the Dutch Council of State, the highest administrative body in the Netherlands, to argue against the closures.

But the body said that a reduction in these sex establishments and their concentration in a smaller area would allow better control and monitoring of window prostitution.

The ruling means Amsterdam can now fully implement its gentrification Project 1012 initiated by then-mayor Job Cohen in 2008. The city hopes to replace the windows with more boutiques and art galleries in the picturesque old canal houses.



Update: More Miserable...

Dutch sex workers under the cosh both from western economic suffocation and local repressive politically correct law

Link Here2nd August 2013
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

Amsterdam's famous red-light district is under threat, from the economic crisis on one hand and on the other lawmakers are proposing restrictive changes to the sex-for-hire industry.

The economic crisis is forcing prostitutes to lower their prices and to accept dubious sexual practices, according to the sex work advocacy group Geisha.

The trend is apparent in the main cities, with some prostitutes unable to pay the rent on their rooms , Ilonka Stakelborough from Geisha told Algemeen Dagblad. Until recently, the minimum price was EUR50, but this has now dropped as low as EUR20 in cities such as Amsterdam and The Hague.

Geisha is to set up a project for sex workers so they can form a co-operative. Geisha will rent a room which prostitutes only pay rent for when they are actually working.

Gender extremism has been taking hold in the Netherlands for some time . For example. Myrthe Hilkens, a Labor Party legislator who supports a series of moves to tighten the rules on prostitution said:

For something as simple as the lust for sex, we are tolerating modern-day slavery.  I think that cannot be.

Anti sex work proposals are far-reaching. Most contested is a bill to require all prostitutes be registered with the government---a measure that has already been approved by the lower house but is struggling in the Senate. Also in the works: raising the minimum age to 21 from 18, and a requirement that escort services be licensed, just as brothels currently are. A vote is expected before the summer recess on July 9.

Under the proposed registry, Holland's roughly 20,000 prostitutes would have to meet with government officials and show they are not being coerced in order to get a registration card.

Meanwhile, the city government in Amsterdam on Wednesday is expected to approve tougher rules, including ordering brothels to close in the early-morning hours and requiring that prostitutes speak Dutch, English, German or Spanish.

City officials say they have managed to cut the number of prostitutes' windows in the red-light district from 500 to 409 in about five years, and want to ultimately bring it down to 300.



Update: De-Boated...

Utrecht sex workers relocated

Link Here3rd December 2013
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

Utrecht city council has agreed a new location for the city's sex workers, five months after the licences for most of the city's floating brothels were withdrawn.

Mayor Aleid Wolfsen cancelled the permits in July because of supposed concerns the boat owners were involved in human trafficking. The boats on the Zandpad must now be removed by March.

The sex workers, some of whom had attempted to take over the boats themselves, will be relocated to a new location with 162 workspaces, local broadcaster RTV Utrecht said.

The city is also introducing a minimum age of 21 for prostitutes and says the windows must have reasonable rents. Would-be brothel owners will only be given three-year licences for no more than 20% of the windows.



Update: Red Light Secrets...

A new museum opens in Amsterdam about the modern realities of sex work and window shopping

Link Here8th February 2014
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Each evening thousands of tourists stroll down the narrow canal-side streets of Amsterdam's famed Red Light District, gawking at ladies in lingerie who work behind windows. Now a small new educational museum in the heart of the district shows the reality from the other side of the glass.

Organizer Melcher de Wind says the Red Light Secrets museum is for those who want to learn more about how the area works. I

The museum focuses on the era since 2000, when prostitution became legal in the Netherlands. Yolanda van Doeveren, who manages the city's prostitution social programs, says the district is regulated by police officers, social workers, health workers, tax authorities and civil rights groups. A new girl who appears in a window will be noticed in a matter of hours and must be able to show that she's old enough and has approval to work. The legal age to work as a prostitute in Amsterdam has recently been raised from 18 to 21.

Very few women who work as prostitutes ever earn more than a middle class income at best. Ilonka Stakelborough, an escort who heads a sex-workers union called the Geisha Institute, says it's not the prettiest or youngest girls who get the most customers or earn the most. And escorts and high-end brothel prostitutes don't necessarily do better, they have fewer customers, longer sessions and lots of costs, for taxis or splitting profits with brothel owners. A window typically rents for 150 euros ($202) for a half-day. Given the standard cost of about 50 euros ($70) for a 15-minute session, their take-home pay before taxes is only 150 euros after seeing six clients, or 250 euros ($338) after eight.

The Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution is located on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60-62 in Amsterdam. The museum is open daily from noon to midnight. Admission cost: 7.50 euros.



Update: Window Cleaners...

Amsterdam dreams up more spurious rules to target red light windows

Link Here30th September 2014
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
New regulations supposedly aimed at the hygiene of sex toys have irked Red Light District window operators, who are now appealing the rules change by Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan.

As part of the new licensing conditions, window landlords are responsible for ensuring that sex toys maintain proper hygiene standards rather than the sex workers who use them.

Under the united front Wallen Ondernemers Prostitutie (WOP) window operators say the responsibility for the cleanliness of sex toys should rest with the people who rent the windows, and they have filed an official complaint with the city over the change, according to the Telegraaf.

In July 2013, new regulations imposed much stricter rules on window operators across the Red Light District. To receive a license, operators must ensure that each window is adequately supplied with clean towels, condoms and disinfectant soap, with checks carried out eight times annually. The addition of sex toy hygiene proved to be too much for operators, they said.



Updated: Proud to Protest...

Amsterdam sex workers protest about their windows being closed down by the council

Link Here10th April 2015
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
PROUD, a sex workers association is organising a large demonstration of sex workers to protest against the continuing closure of window brothels in Amsterdam on Thursday April 9th.

Amsterdam city council will be debating the controversial project 1012 that evening. PROUD, who represents sex workers in the Netherlands, will deliver a list of grievances and demands to the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan.

PROUD spokesman Lyle Muns said:

Project 1012 is an urban regeneration project that wholly ignores the presence of sex workers in the city center. Instead of 'saving' sex workers, it is necessary to listen to them. And what they unanimously say is: Hands off our work spaces!

Project 1012 claims to fight abuses in the sex industry by closing windows. But displaced sex workers do not stop working. It was naive of the responsible Social Democratic party in the city council to think that this would ever work. Sex workers didn't stay home but moved to other cities or work from the Internet. PROUD explains how closing windows leads to a worsening of the work conditions of sex workers. Window brothels are one of the safest work places in prostitution. Each window has an alarm in case of danger. The police are always nearby. Health and service organisations frequently monitor the windows. These back up services are simply not available at other sites. By closing windows sex workers are forced to work in more dangerous environments

PROUD demands the immediate termination of Project 1012. It also demands the reversal of the window closures. For its primary target group Project 1012 has been an utter failure. Sex workers are victims of a costly, misconceived project that is ruining Amsterdam's unique historical center. It is high time that stubborn officials begin to respect the rights of sex workers.

The demonstration will leave Thursday April 9 at 18.00 hours from the Oudekerksplein. Sex workers and everyone who supports them are all welcome! At 19.00 hours a statement will be submitted to the mayor at the Stopera. To respect their anonymity some sex workers will wear masks. The media are invited to interview sex workers anonymously.

Update: Proud Protest

10th April 2015. See  article from by Felicia Anna

With hundreds of sex workers marching through the streets of Amsterdam today, the sex workers made a clear statement: Stop the closure of prostitution windows!

Since 2008 the city has closed down 117 prostitution windows, and they have another 94 windows scheduled for closure. But in recent years criticism has been rising regarding the project, because the project was being sold as a project to fight forced prostitution , claiming they would reduce human trafficking by closing down windows. In reality however about 300 sex workers have already lost their workplace, and another 250 girls are going to loose their workplace, and nobody knows where those girls end up. I'm sure that helps possible victims a lot!

With a bigger turn up than expected, the 200 masks we provided for the girls for the demonstration weren't enough for all the sex workers that showed up. An estimated 230 sex workers turned up for the demonstration, and another large group of supporters joined us in our march to city hall, to hand over the petition signed by sex workers and supporters to the mayor to stop closing down prostitution windows in Amsterdam.

In total 414 sex workers from the Red Light District and some sex workers from the Singel area in Amsterdam signed the petition. So if ever anyone still claims that I would be just one woman , here's the proof of all the women I represent. A little bit more than the 40 girls from Jojanneke I'd say. And with only 354 windows in those two areas together, the signatures of 414 sex workers prove that a huge majority of the sex workers don't agree with the plans to close down the windows. Furthermore it also proves that behind each window is at least one woman that doesn't agree with it. And an additional 524 supporters signed our online petition, bringing the total amount of people that signed the petition to 938 people that don't agree with closing down the windows.

With a much bigger group than expected, also the media turned out to be much more than we expected. Media from all over the world came to Amsterdam to report about this unique protest in one of the world's most famous prostitution areas.



Update: Location, Location, Location...

Dutch sex workers get a new red light area... between the gas works and the sewage plant

Link Here 19th September 2015
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Utrecht council has approved a new red light area to be known as Nieuwe Zandpad.

The new prostitution zone will be very close to the former sex boats on Zandpad -- between the gas station and sewage treatment plant.

The window brothels on the Nieuwe Zandpad will open in 2017 at the earliest. There will be space for up to 162 sex workers.



Update: Prosecuted for not having impossible to get sex licences...

Dutch sex workers explain how they will be criminalised by a new law banning unlicensed prostitution

Link Here8th November 2015
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers

Sex workers working without a brothel license may risk a prison sentence of up to six months.

On 12 October 2015, the Act Regulating Prostitution (WRP) was taken up by the House of Representatives in the Netherlands, which is their parliament. The WRP proposes to criminalise all sex workers without authorisation/licensure, including independent sex workers and camgirls/camboys. According to the Research and Documentation Centre, this will affect one third of all sex workers. Parliament will vote on the law proposal before the end of the year. Most political parties have expressed their support of the law.

Felicia Anna and Hella Dee from PROUD, the Dutch union for sex workers, explained the sex workers' side:

Holland is moving more into criminalizing sex workers, violating their privacy rights and is moving away from Amnesty's proposal to decriminalize it and protect sex workers' rights. This country is really going crazy

It is often the only option for sex workers who wish to work independently in a situation where cities consistently refuse to give out licenses to any sex worker due to stigma. By working unlicensed, sex workers also avoid the oppressive regulations and financially exploitative reality of the legal framework.

The main problem with 'prostitution' in Holland, is the shortage of workplaces due to the constant closures of legal workplaces (40% has been closed down already), while it's impossible to get a permit for a new workplace. But now they actually want to throw sex workers in jail for not being able to get this impossible to get permit.

According to Hella Dee, unlicensed sex workers face all the issues of working within a criminalised environment, especially regarding police harassment. Sex workers report an increase in police violence and intimidation. Police officers out sex workers to landlords and non-sex work employers, leading to eviction and loss of non-sex work income. Parents are reported to social services based solely on their profession. Police officers enter sex worker homes without their permission and ask personal questions about their private (sex) lives - the proposed Act Regulation Prostitution (WRP) aims to legalise this practice. Tax office will demand high fines based on unrealistic assumptions about the number of clients sex workers see.

PROUD calls on all Members of Parliament to speak out against the WRP. PROUD also calls on the association of sex workers and allies to take action against this law.



Update: Not a happy ending...

Amsterdam council closes 16 massage parlours over unlicensed sex workers

Link Here6th January 2016
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam closed eight massage parlors late last year after evidence was found indicating that they were used for illegal prostitution. Eight more massage parlors were told they have to close, newspaper Het Parool reports.

The local council investogated 22 parlors, most of them Thai and Chinese massage parlors. They looked for trace evidence, scantily clad women and sexually related objects in the parlors. They also looked at internet reviews.

Three of the checked massage parlors were clean, in three others there was not enough evidence to prove illegal prostitution took place. Eight were closed immediately and eight others were informed that they had to close.

The council claims that the parlours provide unsafe working environments and also considers unlicensed parlours to be unfair competition for licensed sex companies, who have to comply with various restrictive rules and regulations.



Offsite Article: Project 1012...

Link Here15th January 2016
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
The Guardian reports on the progress of the project to close down Amsterdam's red light area

See article from



Update: Miserable Amsterdam...

Council asks for people to snitch on happy endings in massage salons

Link Here5th April 2016
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam's borough council of Zuid is to ask people who use the area's massage salons about their experiences, in an effort to find out if they are offering 'happy endings'

Council wardens are also to keep watch on salons which are suspected of offering happy endings . It is the first time city officials will have taken an undercover approach to dealing with massage salons, according to the Parool newspaper.

Over the past year, nine addresses in Zuid were checked by council inspectors and nine were closed down for periods of three months. One case, which centres on an internet review by a satisfied customer, is still pending in court. In total, checks were carried out on 22 massage salons, mainly operated by Thai and Chinese nationals.

The closures are the result of a major effort to clamp down on massage parlours which also offer prostitutes and so compete with licenced brothels.



Offsite Article: Perhaps honest competition keeps prices low...

Link Here 15th December 2016
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
The number of legal brothels in New Zealand is declining, possibly giving way to independent working

See article from



No Looking!...

Amsterdam restricts tours of its red light area

Link Here10th February 2018
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam is putting ludicrous restrictions on visitors touring its famous Red Light District.

Starting in 2018, people visiting the Red Light District in Amsterdam as part of guided tour groups will have to adhere to a number of rules recently introduced by the local authorities.

The rules include the following prohibitionss:

  • Tours groups are not allowed into the Red Light District after 11 p.m.
  • Tour groups are prohibited from stopping at busy areas like bridges or in front of store entrances.
  • Tourists are prohibited from taking pictures of prostitutes.
  • Your guides must ensure that their charges are facing away from sex workers during stops.
  • Tourists are also prohibited from shouting and drinking alcohol or doing drugs during the tour.

Guides are expected to instruct tourists to treat local residents, entrepreneurs and sex workers with respect. (no mention of customers though).

The municipal authorities also considering levying a so called entertainment fee on people taking part in such tours, the notice adds.



Closing windows...

Amsterdam introduces repressive new rules to make sex work more difficult

Link Here1st September 2018
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
The Council of State Administrative Law division has upheld restrictive rules for brothel owners, that were initially introduced in 2013, but have been postponed due to a legal challenge.

The brothel keepers in Amsterdam's Red Light District must ensure that prostitutes should meet the minimum-age requirement of 21.

The owners are also obliged to interview sex workers in order to spot signs of human trafficking. A previous 2015 court judgement requires that Dutch brothel owners must speak the languages of the sex workers they hire. Reports of these interviews should then be made available to municipal supervisors.  However personal data of sex workers obtained during interviews does not have to be shared with municipal supervisors.

Among rules not upheld by the court is the requirement for the owners of window-based brothels to be held responsible for violations of hygiene rules, including cleanliness of the rooms and sex toys.

The decision by the Council of State is irrevocable and leaves no room for another appeal, the Parool reported.



The wrong type of culture...

A new mayor of Amsterdam decides she would like to banish the red light area

Link Here 12th December 2018
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam's historic Red Light district could soon be broken up to make way for more 'cultural' attractions, the city's first female mayor has said.

Femke Halsema claimed the Wallen district is full of vulnerable foreign women being booed by hordes of drunken tourists as she vowed to reform it.

Her plans would not get rid of prostitution and sex shops altogether, but would spread them out across the city rather than concentrating them in one area. She told Bloomberg :

We would like tourists to see the cultural value.

We need to think about what kind of tourists we want to attract, and we shouldn't have any illusion that the number of tourists in the city will go down.  It will keep on rising.



Reputation management...

Amsterdam to ban guided tours of its red light area

Link Here 22nd March 2019
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam Council has banned guided tours of its red light area from the 1st January next year.

The red-light district usually sits quite high on a tourist's list of must-sees when visiting this interesting city but according to The New York Times, Amsterdam's deputy mayor, Udo Kock, recently made a statement explaining it's outdated to allow tourists to gape at sex workers' windows and view them as an attraction.

He claims that as the number of tourists walking through the red-light district grows, the amount of local paying clients decreases. Sex workers then lose business.

Tour companies are a bit put out and claim that tourists will still find themselves strolling the red-light district, but without guides reminding them to keep quiet and refrain from taking photographs.



Offsite Article: Window dressing...

Link Here22nd May 2019
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam puts to end guided tours of its red light district on 1st January 2020

See article from



Tour groups told to avert their eyes...

Amsterdam to ban red light tours that gawp on the sex workers and their customers

Link Here 14th February 2020
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam Council has banned guided tours that take groups around the city's red-light district gawping at sex workers behind windows.

Sex work doesn't sit well with PC lawmakers these days so the council euphemistically claimed that the policy was to address 'over-tourism'.Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Victor Everhardt said in a statement.

It is disrespectful to treat sex workers as a tourist attraction. Tours of the red-light district still will be allowed if guides stick to the new restriction, which takes effect in April, and keep the windows off their itineraries. Banning group tours of the red-light district windows will help to prevent disruptions for residents and businesses.



Amsterdammers cannot face sex workers...

Residents, comfortably cushioned by lockdown bail outs, dream about keeping coffee shops and red light windows locked down permanently

Link Here 25th May 2020
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
People are clearly enjoying clean air, traffic free roads and empty buses and trains, but maybe they should be a little bit careful in what they wish for.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema is due to publish avision for tourism which will outline how she sees tourism developing post coronavirus.

And now a group of organisations have published their own vision for the future of the city centre, ahead of the mayor's proposals. The residents' associations say their plan of action will restore the balance between residents, companies and visitors.

The plan calls on officials to uphold the ban on holiday rentals and to close down illegal hotels. Cannabis cafes, it says, should only be open to residents. There should be fewer music festivals and a ban on amusement park activities such as beer bikes, water bikes, segways and the like. In addition, the city, as a shareholder in Schiphol airport, should pressure for a reduction in holiday traffic. Mini supermarkets should be banned from selling alcohol and the sex industry should be moved in its entirety to a hotel in a different location.

In fact moving the red light district is one of the options which mayor Femke Halsema has already mooted. And earlier this year, a report drawn up by city officials suggested that a special room rental complex for prostitutes or an erotic centre complete with prostitution, sex theatres and other facilities are the two most likely options on the table.

Geerte Udo, chief executive of city marketing department amsterdam&partners, told earlier this month that the city will aim to build a new industry that is socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. Instead of attracting the hen parties and stag nights who once turned the red light district into an all night party, it is aiming for a culture and history-loving audience. Amsterdam has always been an open and international city, and we would love to welcome visitors as soon as possible, she told But the right visitors.

Meanwhile, sex worker organisation Red Light United has published its own plans which would allow window prostitution, currently banned until September 1, to resume. The protocol would require both sex worker and client to wear masks and rubber gloves and only positions which do not involve face to face contact would be permitted.



Window cleansing...

Amsterdam sex workers have to fight the authorities to get permission to return to work

Link Here30th June 2020
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
many businesses, including those involving close contact such as hair salons, have been allowed to reopen in the Netherlands, sex work was scheduled to remain shut down until September. However an outcry from sex workers sparked a change of heart and the Dutch government announced last week that legal sex work could resume on July 1.

Sex workers had staged a demonstration at Amsterdam's City Hall, with chants of, Open the windows, open the windows! We want to work! We want to work!

It was reported by Euronews that sex workers and business owners had suspected that the government may be using the coronavirus crisis as a pretext to end legalization.



Essential business only...

Amsterdam asks tourists to avoid its red light district

Link Here 19th July 2020
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam's council is asking visitors not to visit the city's famous red light district and has closed off some of its narrow streets because they are too busy.

Sex workers in the Netherlands were allowed to return to work on July 1 and the red light district has gotten busier again.

The council claims that visitors could not maintain social distancing.




Amsterdam authorities continue to restrict visitors for the red light area

Link Here24th July 2020
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam is banning the sale of alcohol in shops in the Red Light District over the weekend, in an attempt to restrict crowds in the popular area. More enforcement officers will be deployed to make sure everyone is adhering to social distancing. And day trippers and tourists will be urged to avoid crowds with targeted ads on their social media.

Femke Halsema, mayor of Amsterdam said:

We are taking these measures because we are responsible for the health of residents and visitors. This includes an urgent appeal to everyone who visits our city, be careful, avoid crowds, and follow the corona rules. It is very important that everyone keeps their distance from each other, both the Amsterdammer and the international tourist. On the street and in the catering industry. Only together can we prevent new outbreaks of the virus. A new lockdown is the last thing we want.

The sale of alcohol in Red Light District shops will be banned from 4:00 p.m. on Thursday until midnight on Sunday. According to the security region, alcohol bought from these stores is often consumed on the street.



The miserable party...

Major party in Netherland's coalition government calls for paying for sex to be criminalised

Link Here4th September 2020
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
The Dutch government coalition partner party, CDA wants paying for sex to become a punishable offence.

CDA MP Anne Kuik is tabling a motion asking the cabinet for a ban. She claims that prostitution turns women into a product to be bought and that is something that can no longer be tolerated in this day and age.

Kuik is proposing the Netherlands follow in the footsteps of Sweden which criminalised paid sex in 1999. The Swedish government claims that by prosecuting punters but not prostitutes street prostitution has been halved within a decade.

It is reported that the CDA call is unlikely to win over coalition partners D66 and VVD who are against the measure, saying it would drive prostitution underground.

MPs will also discuss a citizen initiative by Christian youth movement Exxpose which has gathered over 50,000 signatures in support of measures to curb prostitution.



Sex workers to be told to fuck off somewhere else...

Amsterdam considers alternative location for sex workers evicted from the current red light area

Link Here30th April 2021
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
The city of Amsterdam said this week it would consider the Haven-Stad district as another possible location for a high-rise erotic center that could serve as an new location for sex work in the capital.

The council does not like the high profile red light area in De Wallen and has previously suggested  seven other locations including Amstel III (Zuidoost), Arenapoort (Zuidoost), Sloterdijk 2 Zuid (Nieuw-West), Sloterdijk Noord (Nieuw-West), Zuid / Rai (Zuid), Hamerkwartier (Noord), Eenhoorngebied (Oost).

In a market survey presented by the Amsterdam Mayor, it was also revealed that the erotic center should have about a hundred workplaces for sex workers, some of which would be windows similar to those in the Red Lights district. The workers will also have access to private break rooms which only the workers can access. Several bookable hotel rooms will be considered for visitors who previously made online appointments. Additionally, two catering establishments, a workspace for medical care providers and erotic entertainment facilities were planned.

A consultancy project will be carried out over the next three months to determine how best to proceed with the project.



A red light for red light tours...

Stag-do bookings to Amsterdam triple after the city told fun loving Brits to stay away

Link Here 5th April 2023
Full story: Sex Work in the Netherlands...Netherlands less friendly to sex workers
Amsterdam City Council have instigated a new campaign, dubbed Stay Away , targeting people considering a stag party or pub crawling trip to Amsterdam. however the publicity seems to have inadvertently led to increased bookings for stag do trips.

The city's Stay Away campaign is aimed to deter British lads aged 18-35 from visiting, via targeting people who search for terms including stag party, Amsterdam or pub crawl Amsterdam with supposedly off-putting online ads.

One company which organises boozy trips to the Dutch capital saw quotes for holidays rocket 649% in just a day after news of the anti-lad advertising campaign began to circulate.

The marketing effort comes as the city moves to make it harder for visitors to get their hands on psychoactive substances and hop between strip clubs. In order to tackle anti-social behaviour and keep things calm, the city council is making it illegal to smoke cannabis on the street in the Red Light District from later this year. From mid-May lighting up will be forbidden in public spaces in the inner city between 4pm and 1am from Thursday to Sunday, while a ban on take-away cannabis sale is also being considered.

Meanwhile Dutch sex workers are not impressed by the Amsterdam initiative. They say they plan to protest against earlier closing times and plans to move them from the city's red light district to large erotic centres on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

old Walking Street sign





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