Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema, appointed in July 2018, has told the city outlet Het Parool that the city’s tradition of open prostitution needs legal changes and voiced her intention to address the problems with a package of reforms, drawn up no later than summer 2019. According to her, this city tradition has been “increasingly linked to the humiliation of women by large groups of tourists”.
The official criticised the situation whereby prostitutes had been turned into a stop for guided tours in Amsterdam with onlookers swarming the red light district, which she defined as “humiliating” and “unacceptable”.
“The circumstances in which women have to do their work have worsened. So I can understand why a lot of Amsterdammers think: this is not the way we want prostitution to be or how it was supposed to be”, she stated as cited by DutchNews.nl.
While the unlicensed prostitution that goes hand in hand with human trafficking remains a problem, it is believed that the safety and working conditions of prostitutes in the red light district have been worsened because of the influx of prying travellers.
“I find it unpalatable. First and foremost we need to ensure that they are more independent and empowered, and are not being abused or used as commodities”, the mayor said.
Incidentally, Halsema’s reform itch echoed the recent demand by multi-partisan young activists, who called on the authorities to put an end to the exploitation of sex workers and eradicate the humiliating “public meat market”.
The open letter, signed by the conservative Christian Democrats (CDA), the liberal D66 group and the right-wing VVD, proposed, among others, to ban women, who have been in the Netherlands less than a year to become a sex worker.