Amsterdam Officials Are Introducing New Restrictions For Red-Light Sex Workers

Officials say, they now have to choose restriction instead of ‘irresponsible growth’ at Red-Light

Amsterdam is ramping up its effort to re-brand its “go wild” and “no rules” image by moving its red-light district outside the city. As a result of efforts to crack down on cannabis, British citizens who are intoxicated are being told to stay home, and its brothels in the city center may soon be under surveillance.

Officials say that on April 1, new rules for sex workers went into effect. These rules say that sex work businesses in Amsterdam have to close at 3 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. to stop what the local authorities call “nuisance behavior” from people who visit the red-light district.

The city council’s ongoing effort to relocate sex workers to an “erotic center” outside of the city’s center coincides with the reduction in working hours. In addition, Amsterdam is advocating for an aviation tax to combat low-cost flights and putting restrictions on vacation rentals and waterway cruises.

A number of sex workers say that the reforms that are aimed at them are making them more stigmatized. They also say that they think they are being treated unfairly and used as a scapegoat for the city’s problem with mass tourism.

A spokesperson for Sofyan Mbarki, the deputy mayor of Amsterdam, stated, “We now have to choose restriction instead of irresponsible growth,” and that the package of measures is intended to maintain the city’s livability.

Felicia is a former sex worker who has lived in Amsterdam for quite some time and is currently the director of Red Light united, an association for window workers in Amsterdam’s seedy area of town.

Anna, another sex worker says the decreased business hours will definitely reduce income for window workers, leaving numerous scarcely ready to cover expenses, for example, window room rent and taxicabs to securely return home.

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She stated, “Most of the workers start working after 12 or one in the morning, when the bars start to close.” You only have two hours left to make any money, which is insufficient.

During an interview with CNN, another sex worker and coordinator for the Prostitution Information Centre (PIC), an Amsterdam-based organization that provides education and information on sex work, spoke as well.

She claims that the transgender community will be particularly affected by the reduced hours, noting that many customers who come in between the hours of 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. request for transgender sex workers.

She also talked about concerns regarding the welfare of all sex workers, explaining how this could make it harder for them to get home safely.

She outlined the situation, comparing it to 6 a.m., when they claimed there is more social activity and transportation options. “If you’re traveling home at three o’clock in the morning, especially if everything is closed, then that leaves you, as a sex worker, in greater vulnerability,” she said.

Our usual source of income is cash. In this way, around then in the first part of the day, we could be going around with a ton of money. She continued, “If there aren’t many people out on the streets, this gives people who want to hurt us a chance to do so.”

A separate push by the city council to close window establishments and relocate sex workers to an erotica center outside the city center is hidden behind the new restriction on working reduced hours.

On Thursday April 13, a city council meeting that was discussing location options for the proposed erotic center was disrupted by a protest organized by sex workers.

According to Red Light United, protesters presented Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema with a petition signed by 266 sex workers. The petition demanded more police in the red-light district rather than earlier closure times and the relocation of an erotica center.

Halsema has previously stated that some visitors view window workers as merely a tourist attraction. He also contends that the establishment of an erotic center will alleviate pressure on the red-light district and provide a setting where sex workers can perform their jobs in a safe and unperturbed manner.

Red Light United, a group representing sex workers, also argue that the erotic center could foster more criminal activity and “shady” behavior.

Working behind a window is advantageous because it makes you feel safer and more visible. In a suggestive focus, you don’t have a similar inclination since you’re cut off in a structure,” one worker said.

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Another woman stated, “If you move the red-light district out, you are going to get more concentrated behaviors in an area that can’t be monitored as well and isn’t subject to public scrutiny.”

One of the sex workers said, “One of the things that’s so great about being a sex worker in Amsterdam is that when people get out their cameras and try to take pictures, it’s not just the sex workers who help but also the local community.” She added, “The Dutch aren’t afraid to tell people off.”

Meanwhile, the red-light district will also be subject to lockout regulations, restrictions on the sale of alcohol, and the ban of smoking on the street.

The “Stay Away” campaign, which initially targeted young British men by triggering a video advertisement that warns of antisocial behavior if they search for terms like “stag party Amsterdam,” “cheap hotel Amsterdam,” or “pub crawl Amsterdam,” has also been introduced by the city council.

A representative for Amsterdam’s delegate chairman, Sofyan Mbarki, said the mission began in the UK since “some portion of this gathering is emphatically addressed in the nightlife in the downtown area, went with a lot disturbance conduct.”

In a related matter, Amsterdam is also banning weed use on streets. Officials pointed out that this is only the beginning of the campaign, noting that it is “not specific for one country” and “will also start in other EU countries and in the Netherlands itself” within the next few months.

According to the sex workers, British men are no worse than other tourists in terms of behavior. They both added that locals as well as tourists are to blame for the annoyances.

One of the workers believes the more extensive issue lies in the no-rules demeanor appended to the possibility of Amsterdam, which she concurs necessities to change.

“You can have several campaigns telling people to stay away, but people are not going to stay away,” Anna argued. “You need to teach people how to behave. If you don’t do that, it is never ever going to change.”

“This is not a zoo,” Anna urged. “Come to the red-light district but behave.”

Another also called for more education and said she believed the campaign could backfire, saying, “this targeting advertising makes it sound more like a vice city.”

“Treat this place like you would treat your own hometown or your own city,” Violet urged.

Credit: CNN

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