Oudkerk resigns over prostitution scandal
20 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Alderman Rob Oudkerk bowed to the inevitable last night and resigned from his position on Amsterdam City Council following revelations he frequented a streetwalking zone for drug-addicted prostitutes.
After meeting with his Labour PvdA party colleagues on Monday night, Oudkerk, the city alderman in charge of education and social affairs policy, went before the media cameras to signal the end of his political career.
Amsterdam Labour PvdA chairman Tjalling Halbertsma said: “The confidence in and authority of Oudkerk has been so badly damaged that he can no longer function. We hope that Rob can rehabilitate himself and that he gets the opportunity to rectify incorrect stories and vague reports about him”.
When asked by a reporter what he intended to do now, a defiant Oudkerk replied: “I am going to go home and have a drink — something which is still legal in this country — then I am going to bed. Tomorrow morning I am going to bring my children to school where I hope there will be fewer cameras”.
Oudkerk, 49, a family doctor by profession married with two children, had previously claimed his visits to prostitutes were a private matter.
The issue came to light when he apparently told a journalist over drinks two weeks ago about going to prostitutes and viewing sex sites on his official work computer. He has denied, however, he told her he snorted cocaine on New Year’s Eve. He insisted he had only spoken about the presence of cocaine at parties he had attended.
His resignation comes as an opinion poll found that 63 percent of the Dutch public felt his indiscretions were not reason to step down and 73 percent said aldermen and women, plus council officials should be allowed to visit prostitutes if they wanted to.
Many of Oudkerk’s political colleagues in the Labour party PvdA, and even his political opponents agreed with this point of view.
Several politicians in The Hague became aware of his nocturnal activities when a threat was made in 2000 to blackmail him with photos of him visiting prostitutes while he was an MP.
He left Parliament in 2002 to become an alderman in Amsterdam. It was reported on Monday that the selection community that vetted him for the job were unaware of the blackmail attempt or his liking for prostitutes.
But the nail in the coffin of Oudkerk’s career came in the last few days when it emerged he was a regular on the Theemsweg in Amsterdam. A special zone had been set up there in 1995 as a safe environment to allow Dutch women addicted to hard drugs to work as prostitutes.
A meeting of the PvdA faction on the Amsterdam Council agreed on Monday night that Oudkerk’s position was untenable because the council was debating in 2002 — when it seems Oudkerk might still have been a regular client — to close the area down due to rampant illegal activity in the area.
Councillors acted on reports from the police that guns and drugs were being traded on the Theemsweg and that many of the women working there were illegal immigrants and were the victims of human traffickers.
Mayor Job Cohen and the executive committee — made up of all aldermen and women, including Oudkerk — voted to abolish the zone. It officially closed down in December 2003.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news