Amsterdam seeks to ban red light district sex workers from entering windows to combat nuisance tourism

Amsterdam’s world famous red light district could look very different in the future as the dutch town is preparing to vote on an ordinance that would permanently close the curtains on brothel windows to better comply with the #MeToo movement and combat nuisance tourism.

The red curtains lining the windows of brothels in Amsterdam’s renowned DeWallen district are currently only drawn when a client is being entertained or a sex worker is absent. This would change if the city council votes to keep them closed permanently this week, The telegraph reported.

The plan, proposed by the liberal D66 party, would mean the brothels’ curtains would remain closed and instead of sex workers being able to lure potential clients from the window, clients would book appointments using a QR code on their smartphones.

Some sex workers have voiced opposition to the plan, arguing that it will hurt their business and make them less safe by preventing them from assessing potential dangers a client could pose.

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People walk near a red traffic light inside the Red Light District in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on December 10, 2022.

People walk near a red traffic light inside the Red Light District in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on December 10, 2022.
(Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)

“How can I attract customers with the curtains closed?” a sex worker named “Lucy” told The Telegraph. “They say it’s for my protection, but that’s nonsense. If someone denigrates me, I denigrate him. It is not an automatic service that business. If drunk people come, I don’t let them in.”

Politicians in favor of the new process argue that the online bookings that replace window trading will be cleaned up. annoying tourism and change the perception that people have of the city.

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De Wallen, the red light district of Amsterdam, is known internationally and one of the main tourist attractions in the city.  It offers legal prostitution and several coffee shops that sell marijuana.

De Wallen, the red light district of Amsterdam, is known internationally and one of the main tourist attractions in the city. It offers legal prostitution and several coffee shops that sell marijuana.
(Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)

“The red-light district is not a lawless place,” Ilana Rooderkerk, director of the local branch of D66, said of the plan. “Sex work has become a tourist attraction, accompanied by highly undesirable and demeaning behavior towards sex workers. This does nothing to improve the position of women in the MeToo era.”

In addition to addressing curtains in the red-light district, the measure will make other changes to crack down on nuisance tourism, including banning smoking marijuana in public areas, close bars at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. and close window brothels at 3 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.

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A general view of the Red Light District in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on December 9, 2022. Amsterdam is the capital and the largest city of the Netherlands.

A general view of the Red Light District in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on December 9, 2022. Amsterdam is the capital and the largest city of the Netherlands.
(Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)

“We need to get rid of this image of Amsterdam as a city where you go to do all the things that are not allowed at home, like drugs and prostitution,” said Christian Democrat Campaign councilor Diederik Boomsma.

“We need to move beyond this jaded and falsely progressive understanding of freedom as freedom from all taboos and let go and return to a more mature understanding of freedom as self-government.”

The general push by lawmakers to clean up the red-light district has been dubbed the “stay out” campaign, as it seeks to discourage tourists from coming to the area with the intent to engage in lawlessness.

“Some companies abuse the image of Amsterdam to sell it as a place of ‘unlimited possibilities,'” said Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki. said in a statement. “For this reason, some groups of visitors conceive it as a city where anything goes. This type of tourism, as well as the offers directed specifically to these groups, are not considered desirable by the Municipal Executive”.

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