Utrecht clamps down on prostitution
Zandpad will be placed under camera surveillance to help combat sex trafficking.31 October 2008
UTRECHT – The city of Utrecht plans to clean up prostitution after strong indications that most women are forced into working the streets.
The entire area of Zandpad in the city will be placed under CCTV surveillance in an effort to tackle the trafficking of women, says Utrecht Mayor Aleid Wolfsen.
“If women are abused or exploited, filming the area, and knowing which pimps are connected to which women, will increase our opportunities to help the women."
Wolfsen said that two independent studies had concluded that between 50 and 90 per cent of the women working in the Utrecht prostitution zones were not doing so voluntarily.
On Zandpad Street alone, some 900 prostitutes are working in 140 prostitution venues, housed in typical Dutch houseboats along the Vecht river.
Prostitution itself is legal in the Netherlands, with companies operating brothels being required to obtain a licence before they can open for business.
Brothels are required to list individual sex workers as employees. It is a bureaucratic procedure, which doesn't provide the authorities with information on whether or not the women were employed voluntarily.
Wolfsen hopes to change the law by requiring individual prostitutes to apply for a licence themselves.
Police, the courts and health care workers will exchange more information in the future.
Utrecht does not want to go as far as Amsterdam and Alkmaar, where many red light area premises have been closed.
[dpa / Radio Netherlands / Expatica]