Amsterdam Looks to ‘Clean Up’ Red Light District Post-Coronavirus

AMSTERDAM—Last year, Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema announced her plans to overhaul the city’s iconic “red light district,” possibly shutting down the famous sex worker window displays, and closing down brothels. Now, in the wake of country-wide shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Halsema and city officials may get their chance. As the Netherlands goes through a phased “reopening” process, sex workers have been pushed to the back of the line, forced to wait until September to get back to work, even as other close-contact businesses, such as hair salons, have been permitted to open up in May.  Sex workers in Amsterdam rely primarily on tourists to generate revenue, and Amsterdam attracts about 1 million per month—about five times as many people as actual residents of the city. But Halsema said in a letter to the city council last month that the crisis has highlighted “the urgency to think about the city center of the future,” according to a report by Bloomberg News.  That future includes far fewer sex workers, and more corporate offices, according to the Bloomberg report.  “A key piece of the government’s plan to reconfigure Amsterdam is to get brothels to move out of the old city and curb coffee shops that serve tourists,” wrote Bloomberg reporters Ruben Munsterman and Ellen Proper. But they added, “that won’t be easy.” The city center’s famed red light district now has 330 windows in which sex workers present live advertisements for themselves. With a prevalence of surveillance cameras and the public nature of the displays, sex workers find the city center not only a source of revenue, but safety. But in 2019, Halsema proposed eliminating the window displays entirely. At the time, the mayor said that the move was motivated at least partly by a desire to protect Amesterdam’s sex workers from overzealous tourists. “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,” she said. But according to the Bloomberg report, the real motivation is to attract corporations.  The mayor’s letter to the council in May said that she wanted to change policies and permitting practices so that “the old city is not just dotted with shops selling souveniers, cannabis and Nutella-lathered waffles but has companies where residents can work, houses where they can live and grocery stores and outlets that cater to them,” according to Munsterman and Proper. The Amsterdam sex business expects to continue struggling even when allowed to reopen, according to the Bloomberg report, saying that they expect business to reach only 30 percent of previous levels, as fear of coronavirus infection continues to scare tourists away. Photo By Pexels / Pixabay 

written by: Lawrence Avery

source: Amsterdam Looks to ‘Clean Up’ Red Light District Post-Coronavirus | AVN

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