Street prostitution experiment ends
20 November 2003 , AMSTERDAM — The Amsterdam experiment with a tolerated, police-patrolled street prostitution zone offering medical and social work assistance to sex workers has come to an end.
20 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — The Amsterdam experiment with a tolerated, police-patrolled street prostitution zone offering medical and social work assistance to sex workers has come to an end.
Amsterdam Council resolved on Wednesday night to close the street prostitution zone on the Theemsweg due to ongoing problems with illegal prostitution and organised crime. The council said it no longer wished to operate an area where women continually fall victim to human traffickers.
The executive council — made up the city's mayor and aldermen and women — resolved last month to close the zone, located in the Westelijk Havengebied. But an official closure required the approval of the entire council.
Mayor Job Cohen had previously said the situation was "a devils dilemma" because it "appeared impossible to create a safe and controllable zone for women that was not open to abuse by organised crime". On the other hand, he said unmanageable street prostitution could spread again across the city.
Police will maintain tight surveillance on developments in the sex industry, but if the closure of the zone has negative consequences — such as the spread of street prostitution to other areas — there is still a chance the Theemsweg will be reopened. The area's facilities will thus be maintained for a further 12 months, NOS reported.
Not all council members backed the decision, with some of them expressing concern that the prostitutes who use the street zone will appear elsewhere in the city, such as behind Central Station. Prostitution behind the station led to the creation of the special harbour zone several years ago.
The majority-rule Labour PvdA demanded measures be taken to ensure that problems do not appear in other areas of the city. It also demanded strong guarantees regarding the shelter and care of prostitutes.
But the PvdA motion — which the party expressed was a condition for its support of the zone's closure — failed to receive majority backing. Despite the rejection of its motion, the PvdA abandoned its condition and resolved to vote in favour of the closure of Theemsweg zone.
The street prostitution zone was set up in 1997 to give drug addicted prostitutes an area away from the city centre where they could offer their services without causing disturbances throughout the city.
But the target group was hardly seen on the Theemsweg in the Havengebied. Instead illegal female immigrants were mainly offering their services in the area and the zone had attracted Eastern European crime gangs.
Social workers with the Huiskamer HVO/Querido, which shelters women in the zone, were opposed to its closure. They claimed that maintaining it gave the best guarantee for the safety and health of the women and their customers. Easily accessible medical and social work assistance, combined with police supervision, is a feature of the street prostitution zone.
But health authority GG&GD and the municipal's Social Development Service (DMO) raised doubts about the effectiveness of the Huiskamer and its maintenance of the street prostitution zone. It said there was already a shelter for drug addicted women in the city centre and that DMO was also involved in a similar hostel.
Meanwhile, the proposed 2005 closure of the Keileweg street prostitution zone in Rotterdam has also sparked heated discussion.
Rotterdam's executive council has only said up until now that prostitution will in future only occur in an "accessible, controllable" building, but the municipal authority has not revealed where that zone will be located.
The conservative Christian Democrat CDA party has since demanded to know when the Keileweg street prostitutes will be able to relocate to the new building.
"We are concerned that the facilities will attract more prostitution. An exploiter earns especially money from expensive foreign prostitutes, not the women who now work on the Keileweg," CDA councillor Leonard Geluk said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news