The first female Mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, is thinking about stopping the red-light district’s operations because of the poor conditions the sex workers are exposed to. Halsema says, “[the city] must dare to think about the red-light district without prostitution”.
This is one approach on which the mayor might open a consultation this summer, with the goal of combating human trafficking and decreasing the amount of tourists in the alleys of the Singel and De Wallen areas.
The issues at hand
“These goals are not negotiable,” Halsema commented to the Amsterdam newspaper, Het Parool. “For a long time, there was a sentiment of sailors around the red-light district who, after months of sailing, go to a ‘stout’ Dutch woman. The situation now is that predominantly foreign women, of whom we do not know how they ended up here, are laughed at and photographed.”
“Trafficking in human beings takes place in the most beautiful and oldest part of our city,” Halsema further stated. “Over the course of a few hundred years, situations have arisen that are not acceptable.”
The Mayor – who was the former leader for the national Green party – says that the workers behind the district’s 330 windows have become another attraction for tourists. “They are laughed at, often called names and photographed against their will,” said Halsema. “In addition, human trafficking, fraud and money laundering must be reduced, and thirdly, I want less inconvenience for residents and entrepreneurs. It must be quieter, cleaner, and more livable there than now.”
Apart from completely shutting down the red-light district altogether, other potential moves include the barring of the brothel windows while permitting sex work to carry on, relocating several of the windows, or maybe opening up more windows to decrease the high demand with the addition of turnstiles on some streets to “shield off pieces of public space for passersby who don’t need to be there” Halsema says. The situation is to be debated next week in the Compagnietheater.