‘Prostitute Hotel’ May Replace Famed Amsterdam Red Light District

LOS ANGELES—Sex workers in the Netherlands won a significant victory earlier this month, when the government shifted course and allowed them to return to work starting July 1, along with other close-contact businesses, such as hair salons and massage therapy centers, that had been closed by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. But the famous red-light district in Amsterdam, a major tourist destination, may look very different once life returns to something like pre-pandemic conditions. The government had previously planned to hold off on restoring legal sex work until September, even as sex workers in the country protested that the government aid package was inadequate and they were running out of money for basic living expenses. Because their work is legal and they pay tax on their income, sex workers in the Netherlands qualified for government assistance. But the payments equivalent to about $1,250 per month were simply not enough, sex worker advocates said. Now, according to a report by CNN, the city is working toward plans that would eliminate the red light district altogether. One of those plans, proposed by Mayor Femke Halsema, is to shut down red light district brothels, with their iconic window displays in which sex workers advertise themselves, replacing them with a designated “prostitute hotel” somewhere away from the city-center location of the current red light district. As previously reported, Halsema has long been planning to overhaul the city center, driving out the tourism-heavy brothels, and replacing them with new corporate office buildings. The pandemic, the mayor said, has highlighted  “the urgency to think about the city center of the future.” New rules on tourists, who account for 70 percent of the district’s revenue, have already been imposed in the city center, according to the CNN report, including a ban on photos of the women who pose in the window displays. Tour guides are no longer permitted to stop in front of the windows, either. “I think a lot of the women who work there feel humiliated, laughed at — and that’s one of the reasons we are thinking about changing,” Halsema said in June. In addition, as sex work was shut down by the pandemic, and many sex workers fled the Netherlands for their home countries — mostly in Eastern Europe — local residents decided that they enjoyed their new life without a constant influx of tourists. About 30,000 Amsterdam residents have now signed an “Amsterdam has a choice,” petition, calling for further restrictions on the city center, including a limit of 12 million overnight tourist stays per year.  There were nearly 19 million overnight stays in 2019, according to CNN. Sex workers say that moving their work out of Amsterdam’s city center would pose a threat to their safety. The fact that the window displays are public, plus the prevalence of surveillance cameras in the red light district, has created a mostly safe environment for sex workers there. Leaving the area would be “extremely dangerous,” one sex worker, identified only as “Anita,” told CNN. “When you leave your shift at 5 a.m., the robbers will be lining up. We don’t want to move into a prostitution hotel. Here everyone can see us. That’s what makes our jobs safe.” Photo By Pexels / Pixabay 

written by: Lawrence Avery

source: ‘Prostitute Hotel’ May Replace Famed Amsterdam Red Light District | AVN