News that Amsterdam council is finally trying to get to grips with the city’s notorious red light district has resulted in the usual howls of anguish from brothel owners and all the other groups with a vested interest. It will be bad for the area, bad for the tourist trade, bad for the prostitutes, they say.
The council announced yesterday that it wants to withdraw brothel licences from people with criminal connections.
So the red lights in up to one-third of the windows may be dimmed. But if this means fewer drunken English louts on stag nights and more nice canal-side apartments for Amsterdammers, so much the better. Amsterdam’s red Light district may seem bright and almost glamorous, but it is a superficial sheen.
Prostitution is sad and soulless, a last resort for the desperate and an easy way out for those with little self respect. Of course prostitution has always been with us, but that doesn’t mean it should be actively encouraged.
Remember the bizarre efforts of GroenLinks city councillors earlier this year to introduce subsidies for start-up hookers?
The Netherlands has gone out of its way to try to clean up and ‘normalise’ prostitution. But is offering tourists the chance to gawp at scantily-dressed women selling themselves for €25 a time really something that Amsterdam should be proud of?