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We must be honest about prostitution reality: Amsterdam official

Friday 14 October 2011

The Netherlands often deals with prostitution by turning a blind eye to the 'raw reality', Amsterdam council executive Lodewijk Asscher says in an interview with Trouw on Friday.

Many opinion writers and officials 'deny' that there are problems and believe the sex industry is well ordered, he said. But there is a 'collective silence' about the truth, he said, referring to forced prostitution and human trafficking.

For years Asscher has been involved in efforts to clean up Amsterdam's notorious red light district by reducing the number of buildings licenced for prostitution and trying to combat crime.

According to some police experts, between 50% and 90% of the prostitutes working in the area have been forced into it, even in officially-licenced brothels and clubs.


Asscher told Trouw that people who criticise or object to prostitution are often dismissed as being 'too proper' or 'prudish'.

'But talking about human trafficking has nothing to do with being prudish,' he said. 'It is a national mistake to think that the way we deal with prostitution should be considered part of our tradition of freedom, happiness and tolerance. That is not the reality.'

Asscher said the new prostitution law, which the senate will debate in the coming weeks, is the last chance for the sector to get its house in order. Otherwise we should look to the Swedish model, where the client not the prostitute is committing a criminal offence, he said.

The new law involves setting up an official register of prostitutes.

Earlier stories
Prostitution pass is no solution

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

People working at many jobs in society have been forced into it by the realities of a cruel and desperate world.

By Prince Burnhard | 14 October 2011 1:52 PM

Reall y the men and woman involved in Dutch prostitution amount to being glorified sex slaves..yes i said slaves.However nothing will be done as its traditional for the Dutch man to have sex with other woman other than their wife.Its consider rather normal or it is at least with the Dutch men I work with.

By Jason | 14 October 2011 2:49 PM

Do you have any proof for that statement, Prince Burnhard, or is it merely some made up on the spot comment? Same question for Jason?

By pepe | 14 October 2011 4:00 PM

its mankind's oldest profession, and without the demand there is no supply. not my thing but prevalent everywhere in the world. what's the big deal? like pot, if you want it, smoke it, if not - then simply do not do it! same goes for the prostitutes.

By Bill | 14 October 2011 6:02 PM

Jason: I think this is office-canteen bravado - I've heard Dutch guys talk like this too.
The truth is that anyone who knows Dutch women would know that that kind of man-talk all-mouth-and-no-trousers. They lack both the bravery and the social skills to cheat in a sophisticated, won't-get-caught fashion. If they are cheating, they are wanting to be caught and quickly, while looking for the next boss.. I mean woman, to take pity on them and move them into her home when the current position-holder kicks them into touch.

By osita | 14 October 2011 8:44 PM

@Jason: yes, Dutch men, especially if they are young, like to make jokes about all the nice girls and women they see around, but I've been living in some different countries and I've never seen such a devotion from men to their partner. They share every aspect of life with their women, those who go with a prostitute are mostly singles or tourists. If they are not, then their partner knows everything and just doesn't care :)

By Sashenka | 15 October 2011 10:49 AM

In reply to Bill, no-one is forcing anyone to smoke pot. If women, or particularly young girls, are being forced into prostitution, that is a much more serious matter.

By Peter G Mackie | 15 October 2011 2:13 PM

I can't believe the blaze tone and casualness of these comments. Every day those living in Amsterdam see some people a 50-90% of whom who are thought to be forced into a constant, multiple times per day rape- this is what forced prostitution and human trafficking amounts to. So, how can I or anyone then be subjected to read the following hineous sentence "People working at many jobs in society have been forced into it by the realities of a cruel and desperate world"? 'Forced' has a different meaning when the force is applied by criminals, not circumstances. And the mores of Dutch men or women in their sexual/romantic affairs have no place in this issue.

By Ria | 15 October 2011 11:57 PM

@Osita yes i know you are right.I just think its a shame that men still act/talk like this in a disrespectful way to their wives family's and woman in general.

By Jason | 16 October 2011 9:11 AM

Only if you look through naive liberal lenses could an intelligent person assume that proper regulation can make prostitution an honorable profession free of criminals and human traffickers.

By Roland | 16 October 2011 5:23 PM

Bill, this is not about the fact that prostitution is mankind's oldest profession. This is about the fact that the prostitutes are forced into doing prostitution. I have no problem whatsoever with prostitutes as long as they're doing it on they're own choice and not other's. I have problem with human trafficking. Kidnapping or deceiving (young) girls and force them into prostitution is a criminal act.

By laurent | 17 October 2011 9:45 AM

I find it hard to believe that 90% of these people are forced into this? Isn't it common knowledge by now how pimps use the "we want you to model" scam on people. How could you fall for that? Also, If someone discovers you're a sex worker isn't the natural defense to say you were "forced" into this work?

By Joel | 18 October 2011 3:05 AM

laurent: i agree, point taken, thanks. perhaps its wiser to look at why human trafficking is happening, than the end result of it? is it due to poor economic conditions, poverty? or are these women (men too I'm assuming) emotionally vulnerable, and thus susceptible to being exploited? what could we do to stop this at its source? i have the same opinion about nearly all forms of abuse and exploitation in our societies - what is causing it, and what can we do to stop the cause, not the result. by the time these folks are working in prostitution or in other criminal activities, i think it may be too late

By Bill | 18 October 2011 7:19 AM

again laurent: I suspect when our world leaders are able to provide an example of working together towards a common good world for us all, without exploiting and making war with other nations (like little children do when they fight over who will control the toy soldiers and the territory in the sandbox), then we will be able to address the real causes of why people think its okay to exploit and decieve women - and men - into prostitution. Until that time, we are only addressing the symptom of the real underlying problem, I think.

By Bill | 18 October 2011 9:30 AM

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