Amsterdam decides not to do business with prostitutes
Amsterdam City Council has decided not to rent out former brothels in the red light district to prostitutes operating independently. NV Stadsgoed, a real estate developer, researched the possibility but decided to withdraw from the project, saying there was no way to ensure that women were not exploited in some way. By Maria Punch
The city council had joined forces with Stadsgoed in an attempt to clean up the red light district and prevent exploitation and human trafficking, and in 2006 a number of brothel operators were refused permits. Charles Geerts, one of the important players in the sex business, was forced to close down several of his businesses.
The council then bought up some of his buildings and rented them out as shops and galleries. It was also the intention to rent some of the space to independent prostitutes. The council thought it would be a unique opportunity for them to improve their situation and be recognised as self-employed businesswomen.
Now that plan has been scrapped, it is unclear what the council intends to do with the property. However, Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen had earlier indicated that he wants to reduce the concentration of prostitution in the area, and create more opportunities for bona fide businesses. (Photo right: The red light district is one of the main tourist attractions in Amsterdam. Photo: Jean-Pierre Jeannin )
Prostitution Information Centre
Mariska Majoor of the Prostitution Information Centre is extremely disappointed by the council's decision.
"Amsterdam could have taken an important step towards improving working conditions for all prostitutes. These are perfectly safe and clean rooms,"
says Ms Majoor, once a prostitute herself.
Recently, six members of a gang led by two Turkish-German brothers were convicted for people trafficking. They were active in the red light district in Amsterdam as well as in Germany and Belgium. Women were beaten, raped and forced into prostitution. Most of the victims were too scared to make a formal complaint against the gang.
The court in Almelo, a town in the eastern Netherlands, commented that the men had no respect for women whatsoever. Called the Sneep case, after the Dutch crime squad charged with investigating international people trafficking, it was the largest people trafficking case the Netherlands has ever seen.
20 July 2008
[Copyright Radio Netherlands]