11 August 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch prostitute lobby group The Red Thread will be forced to close down early next year following news that the Health Ministry has scrapped its subsidy.
The ministry is drastically reducing its funding of several organisations and the Amsterdam-based Red Thread (De Rode Draad) is one of the highest profile groups to be affected by the budget cuts. The Red Thread receives EUR 200,000 in government funding every year.
Faced with a struggling economy, the Dutch government has slashed its budget in the past year to reduce the budget deficit. In total, almost EUR 21 billion will have been cut by 2007.
The Red Thread was established in 1985 to gain recognition of prostitution as a legitimate form of employment. It has focused on combating AIDS and women smuggling in recent years, Dutch public news service NOS reported on Wednesday.
In addition to the EUR 200,000 in ministerial funding, the Red Thread receives additional subsidies of EUR 100,000 for separate projects assisting prostitutes, but it said this is insufficient to maintain the organisation’s activities.
A spokeswoman explained to Expatica that the EUR 100,000 funding may not be used to pay for the Red Thread’s office, workers or its website. Without such facilities, the individual projects will not be able to operate.
All four of its part-time employees will be made redundant and the contracts of 10 freelance workers will be ended. The organisation said it cannot operate with volunteers because the work is too demanding and dangerous.
Prostitution has been permitted in the Netherlands for some time and the Dutch government officially legalised brothels in October 2000. One year later, the Red Thread set up a trade union to represent the interests of the nation’s sex workers.
The Red Thread spokeswoman said the union — which is affiliated with trade union federation FNV — has been offered facilities by the FNV. But the FNV does not have the financial leeway to fund the sex workers’ union.
Instead, it will be forced to pay its own costs, but she said the union does not have sufficient funding to continue its activities.
The spokeswoman said the Red Thread is involved in support and field work activities with prostitutes, represents them in legal matters or in times of crisis and negotiating with the brothels and the government on their behalf. These activities will cease once the funding has been scrapped.
The government will also lose a valuable information source — typified by the study the Red Thread completed last year on what impact the legalisation of brothels had imposed on the Dutch sex industry — when the organisation is forced to close, Red Thread said.
The organisation is now considering a fundraising drive to attract sponsors willing to keep its activities going, news agency Novum reported.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news, prostitution in the Netherlands